- Burger Kings in Sweden and Denmark are daring people to say "canceled clown" three times into a restaurant restroom mirror, in a stunt that plays off the well-known "Bloody Mary" legend, according to an announcement emailed to Marketing Dive.
- Those who accept the challenge will experience the lights going out and a frightening, red-haired, white-faced clown — referencing the Ronald McDonald mascot of archrival McDonald's — menacingly appearing in the reflection.
- The stunt is achieved through voice-recognition technology, which triggers a sound, light and visual effects show to play on a screen behind a two-way "smart mirror." Burger King is known for its direct jabs at competitors and appears to be ramping back up this snarky sparring after the fast food category overall sought other ways to cut through during the pandemic.
Burger King has never been shy about taking swings at its competitors, including a promotion that targeted consumers passing by a McDonald's and a campaign that used augmented reality to set rivals' ads on fire. The latest stunt is an example of the brand finding an inventive way to insert itself into the conversation around Halloween while encouraging consumers to visit a restaurant so they can experience the stunt for themselves.
A teaser video explains the premise of its mirror trick, noting that a clown was "canceled" from his job four years ago and is unhappy about it. Playing off the "Bloody Mary" legend of an apparition appearing in a mirror if one says the name three times in a bathroom is particularly effective because the game, which gained fame in the 1960s and 1970s, has since become a part of worldwide popular culture, appearing in films, books, TV shows and video games.
Burger King has made it a tradition in recent years to unleash creative Halloween-themed stunts around the holiday. Previous efforts have included concocting a special sandwich designed to give diners nightmares to offering every customer dressed as a clown a free whopper on Halloween. In the U.S. this year, the chain is gifting free food to mobile customers who visit specified abandoned restaurant locations of its rivals, including McDonald's and Wendy's. That effort in the U.S. intends to drive people to the BK App and explore pickup and delivery options, while the "canceled clown" stunt in Sweden and Denmark appears to encourage foot traffic into restaurant locations.