#PRWIN: I Can’t Believe It’s Not… Burger?


April saw Burger King dethroned over cultural insensitivity charges – our last newsletter awarded a #PRFAIL to the offense. The “white people can’t use chopsticks” joke did not go over well in an ad for Burger King’s “Vietnamese Sweet Chili Tendercrisp Burger,” which social media users “slammed” for capitalizing on Asian cultural stereotypes.1

However, that misadventure is but a faint memory now, as the fast food giant prepares to officially roll out its 100% vegetarian “Impossible Whopper.” The plant-based patty is the result of a collaboration with a Silicon Valley startup, Impossible Foods, whose founder hopes to “[leave] the cow in the dust.”2 Maybe not anytime in the immediate future, but the market for plant-based meat substitutes is expected to jump to $6.4 billion by 2023.3

This means that Burger King, with an “identically” veg version of its Whopper, is tapping into the genuine zeitgeist. (Zeitgeist is defined as the spirit of a generation or a period of time. An example of zeitgeist is the free love and progressive thinking of the 1960s.)4 People are starting to see the benefits of eating more plant-based proteins, for animal welfare, the environment, and their own health. “These next generation plant-based alternatives are in position to disrupt the meat category in a similar fashion that plant-based milks disrupted dairy and energy drinks disrupted caffeinated beverages,” financial analyst Bryan Spillane has said.5

BK’s latest sizzling #PRWIN started with its St. Louis Experiment, where Burger King chain restaurants in St. Louis served the Impossible Whopper in a pilot program. People showed up for the plants. Foot traffic in St. Louis was up 18% compared to national levels – and national foot traffic during the trial period fell 1.75%.6 Looks like Mission Impossible couldn’t have come at a better time – it’s pretty well acknowledged by now that fast food restaurants need to find healthier, more relevant menu items, on the double (cheeseburger, that is).

Seems like their only issue going forward is going to be keeping up with the demand – “Impossible” supplies quickly sold out in St. Louis, and Impossible Foods has had to majorly expand its production to prepare for partnership with Burger King.

Still, congrats to Burger King for being the first of the fast-food “burger joints” to take this step – hand them a paper crown.



  1. “Burger King Pulls New Zealand Chopsticks Ad after Outcry in China.” CNBC, CNBC, 9 Apr. 2019, www.cnbc.com/2019/04/09/burger-king-pulls-new-zealand-chopsticks-ad-after-outcry-in-china.html.
  2. Brodwin, Erin. “The inside Story of How the Silicon Valley Burger Startup Impossible Foods Is Going Global after Its Sizzling Burger King Debut.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 16 May 2019, www.businessinsider.com/impossible-burger-national-launch-gmo-soy-burger-king-2019-5.
  3. Wiener-Bronner, Danielle. “Burger King Plans to Roll out Impossible Whopper across the United States.” CNN, Cable News Network, 29 Apr. 2019, www.cnn.com/2019/04/29/business/burger-king-impossible-rollout/index.html
  4. “Zeitgeist.” Zeitgeist Dictionary Definition | Zeitgeist Defined, www.yourdictionary.com/zeitgeist.
  5. Lucas, Amelia. “Impossible Whopper Boosted Burger King Traffic by 18%, Report Says.” CNBC, CNBC, 28 May 2019, www.cnbc.com/2019/05/28/impossible-whopper-boosted-burger-king-traffic-by-18percent-report-says.html?recirc=taboolainternal.
  6. Ibid

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