Burger King’s “Moldy Burger” Campaign

burger king campaign

Burger King’s “Moldy Burger” Campaign

In 2020, Burger King, the renowned fast-food giant, launched a marketing campaign that turned heads and sparked conversations around the world.

 Titled “Burger King’s Moldy Burger,” this campaign was more than just a quirky advertisement – it was a strategic move aimed at reshaping consumer perceptions of fast food, emphasizing transparency, and demonstrating Burger King’s commitment to removing artificial preservatives from its iconic Whopper burger.

 Let’s dive into the details of this groundbreaking marketing campaign.

Background of The Campaign

Burger King has a history of bold and unconventional marketing strategies, often aimed at grabbing attention and challenging industry norms.

 In early 2020, the company announced its plans to remove artificial preservatives from the Whopper burger in select markets. This decision was part of Burger King’s broader initiative to respond to changing consumer preferences for cleaner and more natural food options.

The Concept of The Campaign

Burger King’s marketing campaign in 2020, known as “Burger King’s Moldy Burger,” was a strategic and innovative move aimed at changing consumer perceptions about fast food and emphasizing the company’s commitment to removing artificial preservatives from its iconic Whopper burger.

 This campaign revolved around a simple yet powerful concept: showing the natural decay process of a Whopper burger to demonstrate the removal of artificial preservatives and promote transparency in the fast-food industry.

Key Messages of The Campaign

Transparency: Burger King aimed to be transparent with its customers by openly showcasing the natural decay process of a Whopper. This transparency was intended to build trust and credibility with consumers who are increasingly concerned about the ingredients in their food.

Quality: By allowing the Whopper to mold naturally, Burger King conveyed a message of quality and freshness. The campaign emphasized the use of real, natural ingredients in Burger King’s food, highlighting the company’s commitment to delivering high-quality products to its customers.

Health Consciousness: The Moldy Burger campaign was also designed to appeal to health-conscious consumers. By removing artificial preservatives, Burger King positioned itself as a healthier alternative to other fast-food chains that continue to use such additives in their products.

Innovation: The Moldy Burger campaign showcased Burger King’s innovative approach to marketing. By using a time-lapse video to tell a story, the campaign captured viewers’ attention and engaged them in a way that traditional advertisements often fail to do.

Execution of The Campaign

The centerpiece of the campaign was a time-lapse video titled “The Moldy Whopper.” This video showed a Whopper burger aging over the course of 34 days, with each day condensed into a few seconds. As the days progressed, the Whopper gradually became covered in mold, highlighting the natural decay process of food without artificial preservatives.

The Moldy Whopper video was released on Burger King’s social media channels, including YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. The campaign was supported by a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, including paid advertising, influencer partnerships, and interactive content designed to engage consumers and generate buzz.

Reception of The Campaign

Burger King’s Moldy Burger campaign generated significant attention and sparked conversations across social media platforms and news outlets. While the campaign received praise for its transparency and innovation, it also faced criticism from some who found the sight of a moldy burger unappetizing.

Despite the mixed reactions, the campaign succeeded in achieving its objectives. It brought attention to Burger King’s efforts to remove artificial preservatives from its food, positioned the company as a leader in transparency and quality, and ultimately contributed to changing consumer perceptions about fast food.

Burger King’s Challenges and Criticisms

Disgust Factor: One of the primary criticisms of the Moldy Burger campaign was the disgust factor. Some consumers found the sight of a moldy burger unappetizing and even repulsive.

 While the intention behind showing the natural decay process was to demonstrate the absence of artificial preservatives, it inadvertently turned off some viewers who were put off by the visuals.

Negative Brand Perception: The Moldy Burger campaign risked damaging Burger King’s brand perception in the eyes of some consumers.

 While the campaign aimed to promote transparency and highlight the company’s efforts to improve the quality of its food, it may have inadvertently reinforced negative stereotypes about fast food being unhealthy or unappetizing.

Competitor Response: Competitors in the fast-food industry were quick to capitalize on the Moldy Burger campaign’s shortcomings. Some rival brands pointed out the unappetizing nature of the moldy burger, using it as an opportunity to differentiate themselves by emphasizing their own product quality or freshness.

Confusion and Misinterpretation: Despite Burger King’s efforts to explain the purpose of the campaign, some consumers misunderstood its message.

There was confusion about whether Burger King was actually promoting the consumption of moldy food or if the campaign was simply a publicity stunt. This confusion led to misinterpretations and contributed to negative perceptions of the campaign.

Impact on Sales: While it’s difficult to quantify the exact impact, there were concerns that the Moldy Burger campaign could have a negative effect on Burger King’s sales. The sight of a moldy burger may have deterred some consumers from visiting Burger King or purchasing its products, particularly those who were already skeptical about fast food.

Environmental Concerns: Some critics raised environmental concerns about the Moldy Burger campaign. The use of a physical burger that was allowed to decay over time raised questions about food waste and sustainability. Critics argued that the campaign could be seen as wasteful and environmentally irresponsible, particularly given the global food waste problem.

Health and Safety Concerns: There were also concerns about the health and safety implications of showcasing a moldy burger in a marketing campaign.

 While the moldy burger was clearly intended as a demonstration and not for consumption, some consumers worried about the potential risks of promoting moldy food, particularly to children or individuals with compromised immune systems.

Long-Term Impact: Lastly, there were questions about the long-term impact of the Moldy Burger campaign on Burger King’s brand reputation and consumer trust. While the campaign generated buzz and attention in the short term, its lasting effects on consumer perception and brand loyalty remained to be seen.

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The Aftermath of The Burger King’s Campaign

Continued Removal of Artificial Preservatives: Burger King remained committed to its pledge to remove artificial preservatives from its Whopper burger and other menu items. The campaign served as a catalyst for this initiative, and Burger King continued to work on reformulating its recipes to eliminate artificial additives.

Introduction of Clean Labeling: Following the Moldy Burger campaign, Burger King introduced clean labeling to its products, providing customers with more information about the ingredients used in its food. Clean labeling involves using simpler, more recognizable ingredients and being transparent about their use.

Marketing Campaigns Emphasizing Quality and Freshness: Burger King shifted its marketing focus to highlight the quality and freshness of its ingredients. Subsequent campaigns showcased Burger King’s commitment to using real, natural ingredients and featured visuals of fresh produce and ingredients being prepared in-store.

Sustainability Initiatives: Burger King also launched various sustainability initiatives aimed at reducing its environmental footprint. These initiatives included efforts to reduce waste, improve energy efficiency, and source ingredients responsibly.

 While not directly related to the Moldy Burger campaign, these initiatives aligned with Burger King’s broader goals of promoting transparency and responsibility.

New Product Offerings: In addition to focusing on ingredient quality and transparency, Burger King introduced new product offerings to cater to changing consumer preferences. These included plant-based menu items, such as the Impossible Whopper, to appeal to vegetarian and vegan customers.

Continued Engagement on Social Media: Burger King maintained its presence on social media platforms and continued to engage with customers through creative and interactive campaigns. While the Moldy Burger campaign was a one-off initiative, Burger King kept its followers informed about new menu items, promotions, and initiatives through its social media channels.

Adaptation to Consumer Feedback: Burger King listened to consumer feedback and made adjustments to its menu and marketing strategies based on customer preferences. The company remained agile and responsive, making changes as needed to stay relevant in the competitive fast-food industry.

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What Can We Learn from This Campaign?

Transparency Builds Trust: Burger King’s campaign demonstrated that transparency can build trust with consumers. By openly showcasing the natural decay process of its Whopper burger, Burger King was transparent about the ingredients used in its products, which helped to build credibility and trust among consumers.

Boldness Grabs Attention: The Moldy Burger campaign was bold and attention-grabbing, which allowed Burger King to cut through the noise and capture the attention of consumers. It showed that taking risks and pushing the boundaries of traditional marketing can be effective in generating buzz and driving engagement.

Storytelling is Powerful: The campaign used storytelling to convey its message effectively. By telling the story of a burger decaying over time, Burger King created a powerful narrative that resonated with consumers and communicated its commitment to removing artificial preservatives.

Consumer Education is Key: The Moldy Burger campaign educated consumers about the effects of artificial preservatives and the benefits of removing them from food. It highlighted the importance of consumer education in shaping perceptions and driving behavior change.

Authenticity Matters: Burger King’s campaign was authentic and aligned with its brand values. It showed that authenticity resonates with consumers and can help build stronger connections with them.

Controversy Can Spark Conversations: While the campaign faced criticism, it also sparked conversations about food quality, transparency, and sustainability. It demonstrated that controversy can be a powerful tool for generating discussion and raising awareness about important issues.

Adaptation to Consumer Trends is Essential: Burger King’s campaign reflected its response to changing consumer preferences for healthier and more natural food options. It showed the importance of adapting to consumer trends and staying relevant in a competitive market.

Environmental Responsibility is Valued: The campaign highlighted Burger King’s commitment to environmental responsibility by promoting the removal of artificial preservatives and reducing food waste. It showed that consumers value companies that prioritize sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Engagement on Social Media is Crucial: Burger King effectively used social media to amplify its campaign and engage with consumers. It showed the importance of leveraging social media platforms to reach and connect with audiences in real-time.

Feedback Drives Improvement: Burger King listened to consumer feedback and made adjustments based on their responses. It demonstrated the importance of listening to customers and continuously improving products and marketing strategies based on their input.


Burger King’s “Moldy Burger” campaign was a bold and innovative marketing move that successfully highlighted the company’s commitment to transparency and quality.

 By showcasing the natural decay of a Whopper burger, Burger King demonstrated its willingness to challenge industry norms and prioritize the health and satisfaction of its customers.

 In an era where consumers are increasingly conscious of what they eat, campaigns like these are essential for building trust and loyalty in the fast-food industry.


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