It appears that in the last few days, there are a handful of bloggers who, by finding wallets on the ground, have unwittingly stumbled across the latest under-the-radar Burger King promotion. The fast food chain has dispensed agents across major U.S. cities (indications are it’s just been Chicago and Orlando so far ) to “lose” wallets. However, when unsuspecting passersby find these wallets and open them, they discover an interesting message:

Yep, the wallets include notes telling the individuals who find them to go ahead and keep the wallets. Time Out Chicago reported on November 12th that Burger King planned to drop 5,000 of these wallets around urban hot spots in Chicago. A handful of bloggers have found some of these wallets, and are reporting that they contain actual cash, ranging from a $1 bill to a $100 bill, a gift card to Burger King, a “Drivers License” featuring The King, and a map of Chicago or Orlando area Burger King’s.

Several bloggers have posted about their experience, or their friend’s experience, finding one of these wallets. See HERE, HERE and HERE for more on their stories. A couple of PR and marketing bloggers are weighing in as well, praising the promotion and calling it “unexpected and well-timed” given the current state of the economy.

This story hasn’t even bubbled up to the mainstream media yet. A Google News search for “Burger King” + “wallet” yields only one mainstream media story, from an NBC station in Chicago. Nor have stories about this promotion appeared yet on major marketing sites such as Adage or Adfreak.

This is a brilliant marketing move, and the mainstream media seems to be lagging behind on discovering it – but creative and unique marketing ideas like this one don’t go unnoticed forever. I expect much more widespread attention for this promotion as the word-of-mouth affect begins to trickle up the mainstream media.

Pictures via Ted.me.

Update: Apparently this idea isn’t original – Josh and Melanie point out in the comments that McDonald’s did something similar a couple years ago, as did GE Financial.

Update #2: An e-mailer and a commenter on Digg are reporting that these wallets were also spotted on the Arizona State and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s campuses.

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117 Responses

  1. jondefreest@gmail.com'
    Jon

    I love this viral marketing campaign. They have a website where there is a contest to design burger king t shirts. Some top apparel designers have taken a stab at it.

    Cool stuff.

    Reply
  2. John

    Upon first reading this, I thought, “wow, what a cool idea.” Then I read Melanie’s link for GEFS. A hundred cash and a BK gift card–or $100,000 investment account? If you are going to exactly copy another company’s marketing campaign, try not to make yours 1,000 times weaker.

    Reply
  3. lowlux@gmail.com'
    FUCKTHEKING

    THIS HAPPENED JUST 2 HOURS AGO !!

    I DRIVE UP TO WINDOW.. ORDER A CHICKEN SANDWICH THEY TELL ME ITS GOING TO BE 10 MIN AND TO PARK OUT FRONT… WELL I GO IN AND GET MY SANDWICH AND DRIVR HOME.. TO FIND OUT THAT ITS NOT EVEN COOKED AND THEY HAD SPILT IN THE FUCKING SANDWICH.. YOU WANT PHOTOS? ITS RIGHT FUCKING HERE. MOTHER FUCKERS

    FUCK THE KING.

    Reply
  4. sean_oflaherty@eircom.ie'
    Sean O'Flaherty

    Oh, yeah, McD made something similar when economy was brilliant and they were not getting that many customers. Now that the economy is weak, McD (and BK and KFC and…) are bouncing up the number of customers.
    Way to go, BK!!

    Reply
  5. disneylandsecrets@gmail.com'
    disneyland guide

    Amazing marketing initiative. Way more effective than just commercials. Kudos to BK and their creative agencies for the work they have done in the last few years (XBox Games, Cavalcade of Comedy, Subservient Chicken), they definately keep ahead of everyone else!

    Reply
  6. pisa4u@hotmail.com'
    ntopics

    What an awesome promotional idea. Not every day do you find a wallet, and then to your surprise find out it’s really a gift from Burger King. It’s hard to believe that they even gave away some 100 bills in those wallets.

    thanks from Tony

    Reply
  7. robin.janssens@gmail.com'
    Razore

    This is quite a good viral marketing campaign. With a little investment they have managed to get stories on the Digg homepage and several people blogging about it. Excellent.

    Reply
  8. kerkernel@kerkernel.com'
    Ker Kernel

    I’d stand no chance if the King pulled some stunt like this in the Raleigh area.

    The Locust Don Zinn has the grease landscape so thoroughly covered, he’d probably be able to catch those grease wallets before they hit the ground…

    Reply
  9. actualize81@gmail.com'
    How I Healed

    Fast food restaurants are mad dangerous. Anyone who cares about their health avoids them at all costs. I would stop eating at any fast or quick type places immediately if you value a quality life.

    Reply
  10. mark@group8020.com'
    Mark Hollander

    You’re right about a story like this bubbling up to the surface soon enough. Congrats on bringing it to marketers attention before Ad Age and Ad Freak. And it does seem to be spreading. Yelp LA is all abuzz.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    wow dropped wallets w/ marketing messaging inside what a great idea. too bad its been done 1000000000 times in the last decade.

    Reply
  12. cary.a.james@gmail.com'
    Cary

    pretty good idea. still won’t make me go to burger king, though.

    also, to all of the people who believe something is not exciting unless it has never been done before, you might as well kill yourself. life exists to perpetuate itself. whatever original thought you just had, someone had it ten minutes ago. just like what i’m writing right now, complaining about internet commentators who are complaining about originality.

    woof, too meta. time to relax and go eat mcdonalds.

    Reply
  13. brettduncanmail@yahoo.com'
    Brett Duncan

    Brilliant campaign. Even if McDonald’s or GE did it years ago, the majority of us didn’t know it. Plus, I have a feeling Burger King knows how to do it just a little bit cooler than it’s been done before.

    Reply
  14. Kelly

    This also happened on Grand Canyon University’s campus earlier this week. GCU is in Phoenix, about 15 miles northwest of the ASU campus.

    Reply
  15. angrychicken@muppetz.com'
    AngryChicken

    Hahaha.

    A blogger, reporting on what other bloggers are writing about.

    “Hmmm, I have nothing to write about, so I’ll aggregate a few other blogs, add nothing, and post that!”

    I need to start a new blog – A blog that blogs about what other bloggers are writing about other bloggers.

    It’d be super stupid. Like this comment. And website.

    Reply
  16. clean the world

    This is realy littering and if Me or you was to do this we would get a ticket for this. so just because they are a big corporation they can get away with it. I think someone should make the pay as we would.

    Reply
  17. Ana

    instead of spending their money on useless promotions burger king should be paying farmworkers a more fair price for the tomatoes they use (search coalition of immakolee workers)

    Reply
  18. sarahcookmk@hotmail.com'
    Sarah

    I am going to fill the wallets with gift certificates to my website and a darling poem about being beautiful inside and out! When you put the “woman together then the world comes together” and if I can help one more woman know how great she really is by helping her be pretty then it will be a great day! This is going to be so much fun!

    Reply
  19. 777bluesky@comcast.net'
    Elizabeth Neal

    Businesses are thinking outside the box instead of paying millions for tv advertising. In addition, this also creates more word or mouth advertising!
    And the people who find the wallets get a little unexpected bonus to their day!

    Reply
  20. jamesmart121@hotmail.com'
    James

    What a wonderful publicity stunt and marketing strategy. I loved the idea. Wish I have the budget to try it out for my own company.

    Reply

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