Mobile ordering is the future of QSR, according to the ECD behind Burger King’s Whopper Detour promotion that rocketed the burger chain’s ordering app to the top of the app download charts within a couple of days of its launch.

“We know how busy everyone is,” Gabriel Schmitt of FCB New York told Behind the Winning Ideas, WARC’s new daily show on Cannes Lions TV. “The more we can facilitate people’s lives and make sure they can get whatever they want as fast as they want, the better.”

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These days that invariably involves mobile and apps, and while Burger King was later to mobile ordering than some others, its Whopper Detour was a particularly effective – and innovative – campaign involving the geofencing of rival McDonald’s restaurants in order to unlock a promotion (a Whopper for one cent) for Burger King app users.

Essentially, you could only order the promotional Whopper if you were in the vicinity of a McDonald’s – and since there are twice as many McDonald’s as Burger Kings in the US (14,000 v 7,000), this was a mammoth technical undertaking.

Crucially, the intent was not to drive sales. “Success for us was never selling more burgers,” said Schmitt. “The point was how many people we can bring to the app.”

And while internal Burger King data suggests that it did sell more burgers – mobile sales tripled during the promotion and it registered the highest number of store visits in four years – the important metric was the meteoric rise of the app from #626 to #1 in app downloads.

Towards the end of the launch day, the campaign was gaining traction and being talked about but the client called to say they weren’t sure about the results as there seemed to be a glitch on the app store, Schmitt reported.

It was no glitch – the app really had been downloaded 500,000 times in five hours. “And the downloads kept on coming”: 1.5 million in the nine days of the promotion, another 3m after the promotion was over.

Burger King is now firmly established in mobile ordering, which, Schmitt noted, is set to be a $38bn industry in the US by 2020.

“We’re after ideas that not only break through from a creative standpoint but also truly bring business results. We don’t separate those two things,” he added.

“Whatever the KPI is, we want to go and ace that.”

Sourced from Cannes Lions TV; additional content by WARC staff