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Burger King unpacks auto-translatable Facebook ads for World Literacy Month

The Burger King McLamore Foundation has unveiled an innovative new awareness campaign that universalizes the experience of illiteracy through the use of illegible packaging, auto-translatable Facebook ads and a mobile-optimized video.

The campaign brings attention to the plight of illiteracy? which affects 20 percent of the world?s population? with branded menu cards and packaging that features unintelligible gibberish in place of English description. The images are meant to relate the difficulty in completing even the simplest tasks? such as ordering food? when literacy is an issue.

?The execution between old and new media is very different,? said Michael Becker, managing partner at mCordis, San Francisco.

?Traditional television is a lean back medium, so messages must be clear and engaging to break the inertia to get someone to take action," he said. "For new media, content must be tailored for each medium and the situational context of the medium, and the individual should be taken into account.?

?The content should be visual, interactive and to the point, since people act much faster on mobile than they do in traditional media.?

Socially aware
Like many other brands, Burger King decided to use social media as its main conduit for its awareness campaign. The medium?s intrinsically interactive platform makes it an ideal place to host an initiative that is meant to recruit the sympathies of those who may not have the issue of literacy on their radar.

The social campaign features Facebook and Instagram posts written in foreign languages that followers can translate using Facebook?s translation application. The translations will reveal messages about the power of education and literacy.

Burger King has also created a mobile-optimized video to introduce the campaign.

In the video, customers pull up to the drive-thru at a Burger King restaurant, only to be met with the unintelligible menu boards when trying to order. It then portrays their difficulties in attempting to order without any reading faculties, ending with an explanation of the campaign, important statistics about literacy and a link to Burger King?s McLamore Foundation.

Brands betting on outreach
Social awareness campaigns tend to play well with consumers, especially those who are suspicious of advertising in general. A brand paying attention to a cause such as literacy communicates a desire to be considered as a fixture within a community, rather than a business purely concerned with transaction.

In order to organically increase engagement, brands would do well to look for ways to serve the consumer outside of merely product.

Earlier this year, retail chain PetSmart rolled out a new mobile application called Ask PETMD that allows users to instantly connect with a veterinarian regarding their pets? health issues, receive answers to first aid questions and locate nearby clinics in case of emergency (see story).

Consumer packaged goods company Chicken of the Sea has also ramped up its community outreach in the form of corporate responsibility efforts.

Its new mobile initiative, called Trace Your Product, allows customers to enter a 10- to 15-digit code located on any Chicken of the Sea product and look up information on its ingredients and origin in order to promote more sustainable, ethical practices (see story).

?Corporate social responsibility programs are extremely valuable to a corporate brand,? Mr. Becker said.

?They show that the business cares, that the business wants to and is trying to make a difference," he said.

?These programs are not without risk, however; strong brands take the risk and make a stand for what they believe in. They give back.?