Burger King’s Forgotten Herb Advertisement Campaign

In the 1980’s the fast food burger giants tried various advertisement campaigns to drive traffic to their restaurants. Many may remember the Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” commercials. The slogan also became part of popular culture.

With Wendy’s and Burger King fighting for the second place in the Burger Wars against McDonald's.

The J. Walter Thompson agency had to come up with a clever campaign for Burger King. They created a character named Herb and put out a $40 million dollar advertisement campaign. The Herb character was played by actor Jon Menick.

The commercials started airing in November of 1985. The cryptic commercials introduced Herb, but only his feet were shown. The viewer has no clue who Herb was or why Burger King was advertising around this character. The campaign ran on television and in print advertisement.

After a few weeks of airing the teaser commercials, Burger King revealed what Herb looked like. The reveal was part of a contest that would award $5,000 for spotting Herb in a Burger King restaurant. The Herb character had never eaten at Burger King according to the commercials.

The contest once it had started had Herb visiting various Burger King locations across the US. If you were one of the lucky people to spot Herb first you would win $5000 and everyone in the restaurant would be entered to win a $1,000,000 grand prize.

The initial enthusiasm was lost and people started to lose interest in the campaign. It was also the last advertisement campaign from the J. Walter Thompson agency for Burger King.

The campaign at first was well-received and clever, but consumers lost interest in the character over time. The campaign ran for about three months, but the connection between Herb and hamburgers was not relevant. The competition also took to the airwaves announcing that Herb ate at their restaurants. This further diluted the connection between Herb and Burger King.

Although the campaign was not as successful as Burger King initially thought it would be, it has a unique place in pop culture. The campaign could have been more successful if one of the key components of the promotion had been better thought out.

The restaurant portion of the campaign involved the customer saying the phrase “I’m not Herb” in order to get a discount on a Whopper. This was met with confusion and did not turn into the sales that Burger King was expecting.

In the end the Herb campaign earned it’s place in pop culture. The early weeks of the campaign had consumers intrigued as to who was Herb, but failed to connect consumers as the campaign progressed.

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