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How Burger King’s ‘Hot Chili’ Collection Triggered Alarms

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Wunderman Thompson MENA’s creative director Tiago Bastos on flooding a Burger King restaurant in Dubai and all the logistics that came with it, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

How Burger King’s ‘Hot Chili’ Collection Triggered Alarms


In the Arabian Gulf countries, heat doesn’t just come in the form of the weather. Alongside the rising summer temperatures, fiery food is also a staple that the locals are familiar with. Burger King played on this with its new ‘Hot Chili Lovers’ collection, featuring a spicy range of burgers with added tabasco and jalapeno to cater to the tastebuds of the region.

Set within a Burger King restaurant in Dubai, no CGI was used in this campaign. Instead, the restaurant was actually flooded with water to create the sprinkler effect. With challenging logistics involved in ensuring the set was safe, soggy burgers were avoided and a truck full of water was well placed, the Wunderman Thompson team worked hard to keep everything authentic. With an extra seat always available at an Arab table, the campaign even welcomed firefighters to revel in the Hot Chili Lovers collection.

Wunderman Thompson MENA’s creative director Tiago Bastos spoke to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about all of the nerve-wracking logistics that made the shoot possible and the team that supported him, including associate creative director Marcelo Zylberberg, senior copywriter Adham Abdullah and art director Hina Asghar.





LBB> What was the starting point of this campaign?


Tiago> Our task at hand was very simple at the beginning, we needed to sell the new ‘Hot Chili Lovers’ collection from Burger King. But, as we went deeper into the communication strategy, we found out that selling hot food in this region is not something easy to do, because people here are used to hot food ads since they were little kids. So, our first question was: ‘how can we create relevance in a market that already knows everything about spicy food?’. Thanks to deep research into our industry, we managed to identify a few starting points that we could work with.


LBB> How did you come up with the idea of releasing the sprinklers within a Burger King restaurant?


Tiago> As ambassadors of the brand, we know that Burger King is about surprising people and having fun. For this campaign, we wanted to show a ‘Chili Burger’ so hot that the mere tasting of the product itself is almost flammable. After we found our main trigger, figuring out the rest was easy.


LBB> Talk to us about food in the Arabian Gulf countries. What is its impact and why is it so culturally significant?


Tiago> The Arab culture revolves around a dining table. It’s where families gather for celebrations, where visitors can feel embraced and how they can show their welcoming spirit to strangers and loved ones alike. There’s always space for an extra plate and chair at an Arab table. Because of that spirit, Arab cuisine has centuries of tradition mixing spices, herbs, textures and flavours and the chilli pepper is an important connection between its dishes. We wanted to respect that and create an emotional connection with our audience.


LBB> How did you logistically flood a Burger King with sprinklers? What was the process like?


Tiago> Figuring that out was an amazing challenge. We wanted to film the commercial as real as possible, using an actual Burger King restaurant and not a replica inside a studio. Once we set that, our next step was to create a huge ‘pool’ inside of it so we could fill it with water without damaging the kitchen, the floor, and the furniture, and make sure that everything was electricity-proof. Any electrical discharge could severely harm people on set… (nervous laughter). We also needed to reconfigure the real sprinklers to better fit the frame as we needed. A water truck made sure we had all the water we needed to flood the restaurant in full safety. The fun part was getting the cast wet over and over, and changing everyone’s burgers after each shot because, of course, who would eat a wet burger right?


LBB> ‘This taste is fire’ - did you know you’d be using that tagline or was it a process to reach the catchphrase?


Tiago> No, we didn’t. Burger King usually lets each market create its own local campaigns for its product so it can relate better with its audience. So, we came up with that as our local campaign tagline. ‘This taste is fire’ conveyed the point that we needed but also allowed us to play on so many levels on digital too, like games and filters on social media.


LBB> How long did it take to create this campaign?


Tiago> From briefing to airing the film, I believed it took us around two months because figuring out how we would shoot it was a huge challenge.


LBB> What’s the reaction to this campaign been like? Can you tell us about some reactions?


Tiago> Burger King and Wunderman Thompson MENA could not be happier. The entire stock was sold in weeks, thousands of positive comments and likes online, our sales and online engagement increased, and we got the entire region to talk about it… so yeah, we’re proud of it.


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Wunderman Thompson Dubai, Mon, 27 Jun 2022 15:47:00 GMT