As we wind our way back through our branding and marketing time machine, we can’t help but reminisce about the amazing Crispin Porter campaign for Burger King that they titled, The Subservient Chicken. Turn of millennia media and advertising will probably go down as one of the better more creative moments for the industry, we were just beginning to harness the possibilities of technology and the internet but hadn’t quite gotten to the point of “yawn, seen it all” just yet.
The Multi Media Mix
The relative success of the Subservient Chicken, regardless of how many sandwiches it actually sold, but as an advertising campaign hit on a number of different marketing cylinders. It was completely bizarre and slightly off the wall, a chicken with garters? It was strangely creepy in a stalker-ish kind of way, the surveillance cameras and signs “Have you seen this chicken”. The mix of high tech, low tech was appealingly fun. The chicken was a guy in a chicken costume, that was not pretty or elegant, it was a costume that showed its stiches and patchwork creation.
Chicken Made Viral
The subservient chicken was a true multimedia viral marketing campaign relying on word-of-mouth, posters (paper), tv, video, an internet page, where users on their computer could actually make the chicken seemingly do whatever they wanted by typing in commands and a phony “webcam” supposedly play it in real time. The online subservient chicken, was just a whole host of pre-recorded routines, I think I remember reading somewhere that it recognized 325 commands. The website was spread mostly by way of the original social media networks, online discussion forums.
To put all of this kind of into perspective, this is before the movie Avatar, before Facebook, before twitter, this was still Web 1.0. The internet and digital media has almost completely consumed all advertising and creativity, we’ve been there, done that seen that. However, for us we’ll continue finding and writing about “vintage” marketing campaigns as we come across them.
By the way, The Subservient Chicken website is back up and running, although with kind of a blog-news soon-to-be-re-boot format.