Burger King is taking a not too subtle dig at McDonald's and its "Happy Meals" with a weird campaign to support Mental Health Awareness Month. If their goal was to cut through the clutter and draw attention to real mental heath issues, maybe they succeeded. And yet...
The restaurant chain has put together a promotional blitz for a series of Whopper combo meals designed for whatever mood you're in. Using the hashtag #FeelYourWay, the campaign supports the work of Mental Health America, described on their website as "the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans."
From what I can tell, the Whopper combo meals are the same combo meals you always get at Burger King, but in a specially-designed meal box that might describe your mood. They use words like salty, blue, Yaaas!, p^%ssed, and there's even a "DGAF meal." If you figure out what that stands for, don't say I didn't warn you.
The ad itself is fairly dark, and maybe the most disturbing moment is when a teenage girl finds the word "skank" carved into her locker. Yes, this ad deals with some heavy themes -- bullying, student loan debt, being ghosted -- being all around sad, or mad, or both. It ends by saying: "No one is happy all the time. And that's OK."
There's a message here, and it's actually a good one. You don't have to be happy all the time, nor should anyone expect you to be. There is often a very good reason for your sour mood, and we all have those moments. Some more than others, but we all have them.
But I just couldn't get beyond Burger King's mixed message here. Are we supposed to be getting a laugh at the expense of McDonald's and its Happy Meals? Are we supposed to take this campaign seriously, as it addresses serious issues? It's a campaign that's both snarky and profane and (I think) trying to be funny all at the same time. And because it can't decide, it just doesn't work.
For what it's worth, Burger King doesn't seem all in on this idea either. They have rolled out the promotion at just a handful of their locations: one each in New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Miami, and Seattle. I don't know about the other four cities, but I'm from Seattle and know exactly where that BK is located. It's in an industrial area of the city with very little residential and almost no tourists. In other words, if you're not seeking out this Burger King or you don't work nearby, you're probably not going there. So they didn't exactly make these mood meals easy to find.
This could have been a great idea. Instead of a "p^%ssed," meal, how about an Anger Management meal? Instead of a "DGAF" meal, how about being a bit less profane? And maybe try to lighten the mood just a bit? I know, the idea that you can #FeelYourWay is exactly the point. But that's why BK has a bad campaign. Mental Health is a serious issue, and they tried to be serious and funny at the same time. They'd have done better with a separate mental health campaign, and then use their "real meals" (as they've dubbed them) for a fun dig at McDonald's.