Shock, anger, disbelief. On November 2, 2007, the world came screeching to a halt for a small group of people in Las Vegas, Nevada. Luckily, what appeared to be a shocking and tragic turn of events was actually just an advertising ploy. You see, on that fateful day, Burger King decided to tell customers they were no longer selling “The Whopper.” And, unfortunately for me, they captured customer reactions from hidden cameras and aired said footage in a series of commercials I’ve probably now seen 25 times over the past five days.
I’m not sure what I’m more surprised by, their reactions or their willingness to sign a waver to allow their image to run on national tv. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest nothing is better for your brand than saying you think you’re going to cry because a fast food chain stopped selling a sandwich.
If you agree with Clive Thompson’s article on microcelebrity, thanks to Facebook, Flickr, and other sites, we’re all a “Little Brad Pitt.” Instead of being in the national spotlight, we’re “extremely well known not to millions but to a small group-a thousand people, or maybe only a few dozen.” Did those unwitting customers think about their microcelebrity and how they wanted to be seen by others on a national stage for years to come? Or was it enough for them to have their 15 minutes of fame even if they were going off on a cashier when they couldn’t get their beloved Whopper?
The more of ourselves we put out there, the more we have to think about where that information might end up. Five years ago, that commercial might have aired for a few weeks or a few months never to be heard from again. But all of that changed thanks to sites such as YouTube.
Hollywood celebrities have publicists, microcelebrities usually don’t. So it’s up to us to manage our own brands. Before making your life an open book on a reality TV show, website, or blog, consider the following:
Think about how you will be perceived and how you would like to be perceived. We already know some employers look to see what candidates put on the web. Keep that in mind when you’re writing your next blog post, uploading pictures from that Friday night out after many beers, or before you agree to appear in a commercial where you have a meltdown over a cheeseburger.
Always look your best. I mean this in the broadest sense. Make sure any content you put out there is well done and that it presents you in the best possible light. Chances are there are going to be a fair number of complete strangers who will see this stuff.
Be a big picture thinker. It might seem like a cool idea to share some information today that might not be such a good idea tomorrow. When you think about your brand, what are you trying to accomplish? Don’t lose site of that.
I think I can speak for that small group of Burger King customers when I say we are truly lucky that we still have “The Whopper.” The next time you aren’t sure how to manage your microcelebrity, ask yourself “What Would Lil’ Brad Pitt Do?”