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Burger King | McWhopper Proposal – Collaboration or Consternation?

I was speaking at Florida International University yesterday when a student showed me the recent Burger King proposal. Wow! How innovative, I thought. Burger King, headquartered here in “good olé” Miami created a well done proposal to collaborate for one day with the idea to end the “Burger-Wars” and build a bridge of possibility between the World’s two largest fast-food burger chains. While the marketing was well executed from a look and feel perspective, it was spear-headed only by Burger King. The campaign even had a wonderful logo and an even more convincing you-tube video that included Jeremy Gilly, the founder of ‘Peace One Day.”

Perceivably, all that McDonalds had to do was say ‘YES’, and they would in essence become the relationship linchpin to shift from war to peace. It’s all up to you Mcdonald’s to save us all from war! I guess to make the world a better place, while Burger King ‘essentially did all the work’ and put McDonalds in the place to decide between the two.

At first, I thought what many people might consider, ‘Why not say yes?”, but after some thinking, I changed my mind. It’s not that I like or dislike either one of them. I enjoy a good Whopper and a nice Quarter-Pounder equally; neither better nor worse than the other. Perhaps some collaboration between the two chains is not such a bad idea–in fact, I think a very good one. I would enjoy trying the “McWhopper” – it would have been fun, yet alas, if it had worked, I’d have to fly to Atlanta…. It would have been much better if the project was farther reaching.

So at the end of the day I say, NO – this unfortunately is not “collaboration”, but worse “consternation.”

Why you may ask?

Because there is no relatedness between Burger King and McDonalds, there is no shared vision and shared co-creation and commitment for such a great idea – and a great idea it remains. But, alas the execution is horrible. In fact, it turns out that the blogosphere and others simply call it a publicity stunt. I say, it’s in fact worse than that. It demonstrates a unilateral act, the same unilateral acts that cause wars in the first place; those are seemingly peaceful but in fact underneath actually very aggressive.

Collaboration occurs when two companies, be they competitors or not, as the case between McDonalds and Burger King, have to enter a place where relationship takes place, where an invitation (in private) can happen between the two and where McDonalds can freely choose to participate. Once commitment to collaboration can be developed, they could have then developed something together, not designed solely by BK but where co-creationship could have emerged.

Instead we are left with a Whopper being shoved down McD’s throat to the consternation of their CEO saying, “Hey, why no phone call?” Too bad!–Another failed attempt at collaboration because of a lack of process founded on building relatedness. The turbulent Burger Wars prevail! How sad.


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