In terms of digital advertising, 2004 was the Stone Age. Back before social media marketing and retargeting and viral videos became commonplace, advertising on the Internet was a brave new world. Into this worked walked (waddled?) Burger King’s Subservient Chicken.
The Subservient Chicken got his start in a TV commercial advertising Burger King’s Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich. In the commercial, a man spends the commercial telling the chicken (a man in a chicken suit, that is) what to do and ends with the tagline “Chicken the way you like it.”
It was a quirky, clever piece of advertising but in the Subservient Chicken took on new life in 2004 when he went online. In addition to commercials, the Subservient Chicken had a web site. When you went to the site, you saw a video of the Subservient Chicken sitting in a room by himself. The web site gave you the ability to input commands which the Subservient Chicken would follow. Commands included “moonwalk,” “tap dance,” and of course “make a sandwich.” The campaign was memorable for its time. Especially since it utilized digital marketing techniques and technology that had not really been used before. While a campaign like “Subservient Chicken” would seem commonplace now, at the time it was fairly groundbreaking.
The Subservient Chicken Returns… with a Vengeance
This year is the tenth anniversary of the Subservient Chicken, and to celebrate, Burger King has resurrected him in an ad that already has garnered 6.4 million views on YouTube. While the ad doesn’t give you the ability to actually command the Chicken, it does take you through what has happened to the poor fellow in the ten years since his web site debuted. Spoiler alert: Things haven’t been all sunshine and roses for the Subservient Chicken. By the end, Burger King reveals that the Chicken has been re-christened Chicken Big King in honor of a new sandwich.
By bringing back the Subservient Chicken, at least for a little while, Burger King has utilized nostalgia to successfully engage its fans and followers.