Burger King Free Fryday/ USA Just how much cooking oil goes into making 18 million orders of french fries? Makes one wonder whether Burger King purchased cholesterol insurance for this promo.
It’s doubtful that anyone reading this is learning about Free Fryday for the first time. There’s a good chance, in fact, that one out of 10 of you took part in the event, perhaps the biggest and most spectacular promotion in sampling history.
Ever since Mickey D’s and the King began duking it out in burger alley, McDonald’s has held onto the Best French Fries title. Burger King’s efforts to deliver a superior product turned into a company obsession, spanning years, several product iterations, and, of course, millions and millions of dollars. When it finally had the golden product ready to go, Burger King aimed to let the public know with a splash to end all splashes. Helping to churn the waters was Irvine, CA-based Alcone Marketing, which handled the promotional aspects.
The news hit BK restaurants and TV screens on December 15, with none other than Mr. Potato Head as the spokes-spud. He announced to America that January 2, 1998 would be Free Fryday at Burger King, and everyone and anyone entering a restaurant would get a free small order of the new fries, with no other purchase necessary.
One hundred percent of BK restaurants participated, blanketing their locations with roof and window banners, posters, counter cards, and packaging alerting customers to the coming of Fryday. Mr. Potato Head toys made appearances as Kids Club Meal premiums. Extensive media buys announcing the event were augmented with billboards, pr campaigns, and numerous local options for restaurant operators.
When the grease had cleared, approximately 6 percent of the American public had shared in the experience of sampling one of the nation’s most researched, developed, coddled, and codified food products – all on the same day. Chainwide sales increased 5.6 percent for the month following the promotion, and the King got a good lick in on Ronald McDonald.
Fifty-one percent of Fryday participants polled said they preferred Burger King’s new fries to any of its competitors.