April 28, 2014
Subservient Chicken Returns to Burger King, But Can It Boost Sales?

Subservient Chicken is returning to Burger King after a break of ten years.

In 2004, they ran an ad campaign which was considered revolutionary at the time. They created a website featuring a giant chicken dressed in garters and not much else. The actor inside the costume had recorded hundreds of different tasks, so it appeared that the chicken could perform anything a visitor to site might request.

The background to the idea was the promotion of a new chicken sandwich product being launched under the chain's "Have It Your Way" advertising slogan. Within two weeks of the Subservient Chicken site opening it received 100 million hits, according to Burger King.

Now, Burger King are re-introducing the Subservient Chicken concept once again to promote yet another chicken sandwich. This time it's a triple-decker-- which they are calling the "Chicken Big King" -- to compete with McDonald's Big Mac, but with chicken patties replacing the beef.

Burger King announced that it will post a short video detailing the "rise and fall" of Subservient Chicken on www.subservientchicken.com at 9 a.m. EDT Wednesday.

Burger King Worldwide Inc. is hoping that the campaign will "go viral" in an effort to connect with the younger market. The question of whether gimmicks like this actually have any real effect on sales has yet to be answered.

For example, KFC, tried a similar approach recently when they produced a video of a boy giving his prom date a corsage made with a chicken drumstick. This somewhat bizarre approach struck some observers as a sign of desperation as the chain struggles with falling sales. Sales are down 3 percent in the first quarter this year, following a 5 percent slump last year.

Burger King, in its struggle to boost sales, is putting a lot of effort into the Subservient Chicken website. The site is already live, and shows the empty room where the chicken character originally performed its tasks 10 years ago. After entering the site, visitors get a pop-up alert for a "Missing Chicken Error" -- which prompts people to click a "Help Us" button; people are then asked to share the link on social media.

Burger King is not working with the original creators of the Subservient Chicken campaign. The new video is directed by Bryan Buckley, who has been responsible for many Super Bowl ads.

Burger King plans to run ads in several major newspapers on Sunday, including the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, but the campaign does not include TV ads.