Usage of Shock Value in Burger King's Advertisments

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Burger King started its business back in 1954 in Miami, USA. Known for its WHOPPER burger, Burger King is now one of the more recognized fast food restaurants in Singapore with 40 outlets island wide selling burgers and sandwiches at an affordable price. Burger King ran an advertising campaign in Singapore back in 2009. Why I found this campaign interesting is because it received tons of criticism both locally and internationally because the advertisement had a sexual innuendo twist to it.

Marketing Communication


The like objective of their campaign is to create an awareness for their latest promotion. This promotion would be selling their new seven inch sandwiches at a promotional price. They wanted to shock and push boundaries and be the topic of discussion amongst the target audience during the limited time the sandwiches are available for.

Communication Model

1. Sender

Burger King wants to sell its burger and sandwiches to target audience who are hungry. It is trying to promote its new “BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER”. Not only is their new sandwich big, it is also delicious as it states “IT’LL BLOW YOUR MIND AWAY”. Burger King also stated the price of the meal, telling its audience it is value for money.

2. Receiver

General public that are looking for food fill up their hungry stomach quickly as they do not want to wait for a long time for it. People that are on a budget but wants to have a filling meal may also consider.

3. Encoding of the message

Words and visuals are used to encode the message in the advertisement. In the print advertisement, it shows a blonde female blown away by the size of the new sandwich. It is so big that her mouth couldn’t fit into it. Words are also used to emphasize on the size and taste of the burger, as they are bolded and had big fonts. With Burger King’s tagline “IT JUST TASTES BETTER”, it re-emphasize that its burger and sandwiches taste better than others.

4. Chanel of communication

Burger King posted this advertisement on their own website, as well as their own retail outlets to inform audience of their promotion. This is to encourage their audience to buy their sandwiches when they are deciding what they want to eat. They are also placed in MRT stations, one of the places with high human traffic. Their purpose is to make their advertisement get noticed easily. With the high amount of repetition, people will then be aware that Burger King is having this promotion.

5. Problems in decoding process

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As Singapore is a more conservative society, a sexual advertisement will not be well received, especially when it is a food advertisement. The advertisement is too sexual as it depicts a similar sexual position, making it an “adult” rated advertisement. This caused problems for women and especially kids whom are curious at their age.

Creative Strategy and Creative Strategy

The Big Idea of this advertisement would be that the new “BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER” is very big and tasty, so good that it will blow people’s mind away. This is shown in the advertisement using the reaction of the blonde women face. Along with its campaign theme “IT JUST TASTES BETTER”, it is suggesting that the bigger the sandwich or burger, the better it taste. A big sandwich meal for a low price attracts prospect’s attention as it is value for money. With this in mind, it also helps advertise Burger King as prospect will have a mindset that Burger King pricing of their products are reasonable and affordable.

Informational Appeal is used in this advertisement. It features their new sandwich and claims its very big. It also make it competitive for the others restaurants as customers are getting more for what they are paying. When comparing the price with its competitors, Burger King’s price are cheaper, hence attracting more attention to this campaign. With food bloggers trying out this new sandwich, it further spread awareness to this campaign. In addition, reviews given by bloggers will help encourage more people to try it out. Burger King also stress on their own brand, claiming that they taste better than others with its campaign theme. A little of sex appeal is used in this advertisement as the blonde women looked as though she is in a sexual position.

Burger King uses Imagery and Demonstration to execute the message. Burger King showcased their new sandwich image in the advertisement, showing how big the sandwich is. This further demonstrated when compared with a human mouth. In the advertisement, the blonde mouth could hardly fit the huge sandwich.

Promotion Mix

Burger King advertise their new sandwich by placing posters in their own retail outlets and in MRT stations. In order to create more awareness, Burger King also posted the advertisement on their Facebook page. Burger King also used sales promotion help speed up their sales. A promotional price was quoted as it is introducing its new product. This is to encourage people to try and shift to their brand. Coupons were also issued to mailbox to give people more incentive to try their products.

Media Mix Strategy

Burger King uses Outdoor as one of its media mix strategy. Posters and coupons are placed at their own retail outlets and MRT stations. The advantage of this is that location is specific, easily noticed and have high repetition. However it has short exposure time. Image have to be zoomed in if not it will be blur. Another strategy used is Newspaper. Burger King promote itself under the food category of the newspaper. This is to make reader hungrier when they read about food and see the sandwiches from Burger King. Promoting in newspaper gives high coverage and can act as a coupon. In addition, the cost is low, meaning more profits for Burger King. However, it has short life and has poor reproduction quality. With over 200 thousands likes on their Facebook page, Burger King use social media to advertise their new Sandwich. This is to get attention from the people and have an interactive relationship with them. However, some people refuse to look at advertisements, once they see it they just simply scroll away.


Gender stereotyping can be seen in this advertisement. There is a portrayal of women acting as sex objects. The blonde women look as though as she is in a sexual position, presenting sexual submissiveness. This creates a problem for children as they lack the knowledge and skills to know what the advertisement is about. In addition, they may get curious about it and may carry out their own research to find out more. This will lead to a problem for parents as their kids will be a little corrupted after finding out. It is a problem for women as well as they are not respected, reflecting their change of role in the society. What was worst is that the blonde women Burger King used in its advertisement was not aware that her image was used. The blonde women even sued Burger King for its unethical behavior and even said they are disgusting.


Burger King wants to promote its new sandwiches by trying to showcase the size of it on its print advertisement. However, I felt that they have gotten it all wrong, hence here are my recommendation on how I would improve the advertisement and add value to the current campaign.

Be confident and challenge customers.

One point that this campaign stressed on is the size of the sandwiches. It might seem skeptical for some customers, hence Burger King can actually challenge them by asking customers to bring their own ruler to measure it. If the “BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER” is shorter than seven inch, customers can exchange the sandwich, a refund or even dining vouchers. This is to create a bold statement that the sandwich is huge. This will encourage prospects to come try out Burger King’s “BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER” sandwiches as they want to challenge Burger King to get the dining vouchers.

Instead of using the women which caused many problems, Burger King can actually start a hashtag (#SevenInch) to make it trend on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In order to encourage customers to use this hashtag, weekly lucky draws can be conducted to give customers incentives to use the hashtag. What the customers need to do is to post a picture of the sandwich and tag it with #SevenInch in any of the three social media. They are then automatically eligible to enter the weekly lucky draw. This helps Burger King to increase sales as customers have to purchase the “BK SUPER SEVEN INCHER” to be eligible to participate in the draw. Not only that, with them posting on their social media, it spreads to their followers and friends, hence spreading more awareness about this campaign. As more and more people will start using the hashtag, it will become a trend. This will be in favor of Burger King as more and more people will then start to patronize Burger King.

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