Here’s something I hope you didn’t find in your Christmas stocking: Burger King’s “Flame,” billed as “a body spray of seduction, with a hint of broiled meat.”

Yeah, that’s what all women want: a suave guy who smells like a Whopper.

“There is nothing new about linking food with romance in ads—especially desserts and diet food for women, beer for men— but the Flame campaign derives some of its humor by subverting this connection,” says Josh Lauer, PhD, a University of New Hampshire communication professor.

Dr. Lauer isn’t sure whether the fast-food chain’s viral marketing campaign for the char-broiled (half-baked?) fragrance will be successful.

“Ultimately, the fragrance is beside the point,” he says. “The publicity associated with the humor and absurdity of it is an end in itself.”

He suspects Burger King, the second largest fast-food hamburger restaurant behind McDonald’s, is responding to intense competition. Earlier this year, the company issued a mandate requiring its franchises to remain open until 2 a.m. in an effort to attract late-night and after-party customers with the munchies.

“The Flame fragrance campaign is presumably aimed at younger male customers who enjoy the King character’s creepy irony as a corporate anti-mascot,” Dr. Lauer says.

“The appeal of such promotions is that they cut through advertising clutter by offering novelty and entertainment rather than a conventional one-sided advertising message,” he adds.

More importantly, such promotions are viral, rapidly passed among friends online.

“In an ad-saturated environment, word-of-mouth promotion may be more persuasive because it is rooted in the trust and authenticity of real personal relationships,” Dr. Lauer says. “Even better than product placements, in which brands are embedded in entertainment content, word-of-mouth marketing inserts a brand directly into conversation among friends. Viral marketing campaigns are successful when they inspire thousands of positive, admiring conversations about one’s brand.”

What’s next? Erotic onion-ring massage oil?

From Our Organic Blog

Photo courtesy of Burger King