03/28/2008 02:45 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Burger King Ad Hoax Drives Up Whopper Sales

Depriving Whopper fans of their favorite burger turns out to be a surefire way to get them to buy more.

That, at least, is Burger King's conclusion from its "Whopper Freakout" online and TV ad campaign. Timed to celebrate the flagship burger's 50th anniversary, the ads showed what happened at two Burger King outlets in Nevada when -- in a hoax filmed by hidden cameras -- customers were told the Whopper had been taken off the menu.

The reaction was stunned outrage. "What are you going to put on the logo now -- home of the 'Whatever we got'?" cried one patron, shown on the ads. Another, shown in a longer video posted online, said "What, that is your thing though...Oh my God."

Burger King, which began running the TV ads Dec. 9, credits the campaign for helping boost Whopper sales in the quarter that ended in December by a double-digit percentage. It "drove significant brand relevance and incremental sales," executives said on an earnings conference call last week.

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