Slate Ponders CP+B's Role in Burger King Halloween Mask Hype


In a Slate article Seth Stevenson ponders the notion Burger King agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky orchestrated the Burger King Halloween mask hype which involved emails inquiring where the mask could be bought, a thread on Fark in which the mask was parodied and a BK Masks site was launched by CP + B around the same time. Coincidence? We don't think so.

Adrants reader doesn't think so either and wrote us, "Lets say CP+B were the farksters of the King. Funny, but is it legal? Can an agency Fark a marketing tool, and then profit by selling masks for Halloween? Although a bit shiesty, this seems to bob and weave around any kind of direct profiteering via manipulated personal likenesses, intellectual property, etc. But sending faux-inquiries about the masks to Slate? I realize that the inquiries where only that- inquiries, not hard sells. But the level of shrewdness here gets under my skin. I know this isn't anything new; advertisers have been playing the fool in chat rooms for years. But Slate is a major news source. It makes me angry."

Anyone want to add their comment?

by Steve Hall    Oct-26-05   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Brands, Opinion, Viral   

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Sounds like a jealousy-fueled rage.

Posted by: Christopher Cullen on October 26, 2005 1:25 PM

I agree...jealousy. C'mon, who cares if it's slate or anyone else for that matter. It's rather humorous. I say right on.

Posted by: JCole on October 26, 2005 1:34 PM

I've been a TotalFarker for quite some time, and I've noticed what seems to be PR infiltration for the sake of the huge loads of traffic Fark can bring. Under normal circumstances, these threads stand out like sore thumbs, and most Farkers are quick to point it out when their BS detectors go off.

Posted by: Tom Hespos on October 26, 2005 2:11 PM

Who gives a Fark?

Posted by: Satan on October 26, 2005 2:24 PM

I think we should congratulate CPB...not berate them.

And by the way, are you seriously implying that Mass Media outlets are not spun day in and day out by VNRs, special interests and the rest?

Posted by: FArkYOU on October 26, 2005 3:01 PM

Jealousy? The point is OPEN DISCLOSURE. Is everyone else here okay with deceptive marketing? "Who cares if it's Slate or anyone else for that matter?� I do. CP+B goons, disguised as Slate readers, write in about King masks for Halloween, hoping to get a mention on the site. Bravo, they were successful. Is this type of lying okay? Lets say I put some new software, like a community-based site akin to MySpace, on the market. Then, I design ads that rip off other products and even my competitor, MySpace, with Photoshop buffoonery, and start sending it around. Next, I have 20 of my closest friends in the field write in as consumers to Wired Magazine, inquiring about the product and commenting on how freaking awesome it is. This leads to an article in Wired, making me shitloads of cash. Is everyone okay with that?

Posted by: woodenlunch on October 26, 2005 3:19 PM

Yes, mass media is inherently influenced by advertisers. But we know who they are. They have ads with their names on them in the programs and pages. Is there such thing as honest marketing? Maybe not. And that is why the FTC should take action.

Posted by: woodenlunch on October 26, 2005 3:23 PM

It's a creepy, pointless campaign, so any attention at this point is good attention.

I always thought that the face behind the mask is "Herb".

Posted by: Lemonhead Wilson on October 26, 2005 3:24 PM

I have to admit that I was wondering where I could get one of these masks about 2 weeks before I ever saw the bk site or heard they were avaiable. The comercials were so creepy it seemed to me like a good costume idea.

Posted by: Billwhit on October 26, 2005 3:44 PM

Anyone remember that whole Ockham's Razor thing? Myybe there are no CP+B goons working around the clock sending emails to Slate. Maybe REAL people think the king is a creepy guy and would make a cool costume?

No that can't be it. That's crazy talk.

Posted by: Contact on October 26, 2005 4:12 PM

It amazes me that the Slate writer doesn't realize that the reason people are writing him about the mask is because he had previously written an article about the King, and that article at the time was probably one of the first things that came up if you googled bk king mask.

Posted by: Slater on October 26, 2005 4:18 PM

Come on, really? In an industry that hangs advertisements in front of urinals, how can anyone fault an agency or an advertiser who uses all the tools available to them to promote a product? I applaud the use of the medium, and wish more marketers would be so inventive.


Posted by: Dean on October 27, 2005 9:19 AM

Even when those tools are used to manipulate and mislead, Dean? Get real.

Sure, ads in front of urinals are annoying, but at least you know they are ads. There's no subterfuge, no sleight of hand.

By making everything a pitch, a con, a hustle, agencies like Crispin (assuming they were, in fact, behind the e-mails to Slate -- a critical caveat) only fuel the cynicism of consumers. They may gain their business in the short term but they will lose their trust in the long run.

I don't think what they did (if they did it) was illegal, but I'm not sure it's entirely ethical.

Posted by: Satan on October 27, 2005 9:31 AM

About those "King" masks from Burger King:
1. I'd bet the margins on that mask are greater than those on the Whopper.
2. Shame they didn't get it out sooner.
3. Shame they didn't have enough inventory to keep selling them.
The streets of the United States of American could have been filled with half a million little King's on Halloween.
Absolutely beautiful.
When advertising crosses over to conceptual art,
Marcel Duchamp sleeps soundly in his grave.
Sweet dreams Rose Selavy.*
- Owen Plotkin the now corporation
That writer from Slate should have smelled a fish sandwich right that first email.
*Duchamp signed his infamous urinal Rose Selavy.

Posted by: owen plotkin on October 27, 2005 10:47 AM

you can, in fact, pay fark to include advertising content in the guise of editorial content, which is what cp+b did, no doubt.

Posted by: anonymous on October 27, 2005 6:19 PM

Want something even more scary than the potential profit margins from masks on that site? On ebay, I saw a person selling the 'information on how to get an bk mask for under $100.' This person was charging $60.

Posted by: DonJuan on November 21, 2005 5:50 PM