Burger King’s poignant anti-bullying campaign gets new social life

by | Oct 22, 2018 | Analysis, Public Relations

One of the most interesting social issue-connected public relations campaigns from a major brand in the past year is coming back around, gaining a new lifecycle on social media.

In Burger King’s “Whopper Jr. Bullying” commercial, restaurant patrons are served a smashed Whopper Jr. When they come up to the counter to complain, as the vast majority did, they are told the burger is fine. That is was just “bullied” a little and not to worry. Understandably, most patrons are not on board with this idea. They want their food prepared properly, and they want it served without being “bullied.”

Meanwhile, in the same restaurant, a group of boys is picking on and physically humiliating one of their peers. Most customers—even some who complained about their food—ignored the boy being bullied. Only 12 percent did anything to intervene, while 95 percent who received a smashed Whopper Jr. demanded a new sandwich.

Do people care more about their sandwich than they do a fellow human?

Most vehemently denied this. Yet, they watched and didn’t intervene. One person in the video gives voice to this apparent paradox, saying “It’s just easier to do nothing.”

One customer, who does take action, said this: “To feel defenseless, that’s one of the worst things in the world…. I’ve been that kid, so if I see it, I’m going to do something… I hope there’s more people out there like that.”

Check out the video below:


The initial campaign was timed to tie-in with National Bullying Prevention Month, but it has gone viral and become timeless online. Every day, more people are discovering the ad for the first time and sharing it with their friends on social media. Now, that ad has taken on a life of its own.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive

While some PR campaigns centered on specific social issues can be precarious, and can sometimes blow up in your face, Burger King has found a winner with this campaign. The company showed a very stark contrast between when and how people are willing to stand up, and it’s a message that has people thinking, asking themselves how they would respond if someone around them was being abused or mistreated.

It’s a question that has a lot of crossover with many different conversations happening at-large in American culture. Conversations about how certain groups are treated, and when is the right time to intervene. Now, and for the foreseeable future, Burger King is tied directly to one side of the issue. The message: be kind, and, when you see something, say something.

Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian founded 5WPR, a leading PR agency..


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