Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

Learn how geofencing elevated this fast-food chain’s guerrilla marketing campaign to the next level! [Thursday: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing]

November 9, 2023

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.

A Note from Miles Everson:

Guerrilla marketing provides unconventional ways for businesses to promote products and services. This type of marketing breaks free from the constraints of typical advertising, forging a deeper connection with customers while generating buzz and impact.

What else?

Guerrilla marketing thrives on creativity and surprise, allowing a brand’s message to cut through the noise and enhance a brand’s market presence.

Today, we’ll take a look at a fast-food chain’s ingenious use of geofencing in a guerrilla marketing strategy.

Read further to know how this company leveraged technology and made a bold move against its rival.

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing

Burger King is a well-established global fast-food chain. Founded in 1954, it gained fame for its flame-grilled burgers, notably the Whopper sandwich.

With a diverse menu that includes items like the Chicken Sandwich and the Impossible Whopper (a plant-based alternative), Burger King continues to cater to a wide range of tastes and dietary preferences.

Today, the brand operates thousands of branches worldwide, ranking 5th in the world’s largest fast food chains with 18,700 stores as of June 2023.

… and as part of its initiatives to increase its customer base, the company conducted a guerrilla marketing campaign using smart technology. Burger King called this…

The Whopper Detour!

Photo from: Contagious

The “Whopper Detour” was launched on December 4, 2018. In this campaign, Burger King enticed customers with an irresistible offer: A Whopper burger for just one cent. However, the catch was that customers would only be notified of this offer if they were within a 600-foot radius of Burger King’s rival, the fast-food chain with a clown mascot (you know what we’re talking about!).
Burger King created the “Whopper Detour” with multiple objectives:

  • To launch the newly revamped Burger King app and get people to download the platform
  • To increase foot traffic to Burger King locations in the U.S. and help the chain drive in-store sales
  • To generate widespread buzz in traditional and social media, enhancing brand visibility and engagement

With these in mind, Burger King spent months—both on legal and tech research, to come up with the campaign’s strategic plan.

How long did the campaign last?

The preparation took 14 months as Burger King had to set up geofences of more than 14,000 McDonald’s stores across the U.S. The campaign kicked off on December 4, 2018 and lasted until December 12, 2018, coinciding with the holiday season. Burger King believed this was a strategic timing to tap into the increased foot traffic and consumer spending that typically occur during the festive period.

How did the campaign work?

To partake in this deal, customers had to download and use the Burger King mobile app, which used geofencing technology to pinpoint users’ locations. If they are within the 600-foot radius of a McDonald’s store, a notification will pop up on the app and there, users can redeem the coupon and get directions to the nearest Burger King store.

What a clever and bold move from the fast-food chain!

Was Burger King’s “Whopper Detour” campaign effective?

The “Whopper Detour” delivered remarkable results that underscored its success. Once the campaign was launched, people reacted with surprise, excitement, and curiosity. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram lit up with users sharing their astonishment at the one-cent Whopper deal.

Additionally, news outlets such as CNNCNBC, and Forbes picked up the story, contributing to the campaign’s widespread coverage.

Below are the results of the “Whopper Detour”:

  • The Burger King app gained more than 1.5 million app downloads during the campaign period. 
  • Burger King’s mobile app was the most downloaded and highly rated app on Apple and Google Play Store right after the campaign launch.   
  • The average amount spent on orders placed through Burger King’s mobile app during the “Whopper Detour” campaign was three times higher than the average amount spent on orders before the campaign. 
  • The redemption rate of the one-cent Whopper coupon was 40 times better during the campaign than the previous record for a digital coupon promotion in 2018.
  • The “Whopper Detour” campaign won prestigious awards such as the Mobile Grand Prix, Direct Grand Prix, and Creative Brand of the Year award at the 2019 Cannes Lions Festival.

Kudos to Burger King and the team behind the “Whopper Detour” campaign for pulling off one of the most iconic guerrilla marketing campaigns in the fast-food industry!


What can you learn from Burger King’s guerrilla marketing strategy?

The campaign highlighted the opportunities that modern-day technology offers to businesses. As a business owner, leader, or marketer, you just have to be bold enough and think outside the box in coming up with strategies and solutions.

We hope you learned something from and had fun reading today’s guerrilla marketing topic!

Just as Burger King utilized a simple app in generating a successful marketing campaign, you can also harness technology at your disposal and achieve remarkable outcomes.

Remember: Guerrilla marketing opens new doors for businesses to create lasting and meaningful impacts on customers. Exploring emerging technologies and incorporating them into your marketing strategy will help you produce excellent results, especially when executed right.

Don’t be afraid to do something new and let your creative juices flow!

Ready to leave your positive and lasting mark in marketing?

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Thursdays: Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing”

Jay Conrad Levinson (1984) said that Guerrilla Marketing “works because it’s simple to appreciate, easy to execute, and inexpensive.”

Guerrilla Marketing is unconventional.

Looking beyond the traditional ways of advertising, marketers, and advertisers need to spice things up in order for their brand to have campaigns that not only make an impact but also stick to their target market’s mind.

Guerrilla Marketing usually aims to have direct contact with consumers.

This type of direct contact should spark an emotional reaction that leads to consumers effectively remembering the brand.

It’s about making a big impression and making that impression last a long time (if not forever).

Guerrilla Marketing can be inexpensive.

The effect of this is being able to create a buzz around the brand, and the strategy used to market it. Almost everything is passed around through word-of-mouth.

Word-of-mouth is one of the greatest outcomes and it usually doesn’t cost anything.

This is every business’ or brand’s dream!

Every Thursday, we publish tips, examples, and other useful content on unconventional ways of marketing and promotion.

Learn more about how to grab your target market’s attention and make an amazing first and lasting impression without having to spend a lot of money.

Businesses don’t really need to spend much for a guerrilla campaign. You do not need a big budget to be successful. You just need creativity and a good imagination.

Hope you’ve found this week’s guerrilla marketing insight interesting and helpful.

Stay tuned for next Thursday’s Gorillas of Guerrilla Marketing!


Kyle Yu
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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