PRmoment Leaders PA Mediapoint PA Assignments PRCA PRmoment Awards Winners North Creative Moment Awards 2024 PR Masterclass: AI in PR

Good and Bad PR: Burger King’s Nightmare Burger

Good PR  

We’re mere days away from Halloween now and brands are getting their spooky PR activity out there into the public eye. Burger King in the US has released the ‘Nightmare King’ chicken, bacon, beef and cheese burger, complete with a green bun and ingredients that are said to literally cause nightmares.

The global burger chain teamed up with Florida Sleep & Neuro Diagnostic Services, Inc. and Paramount Trials to run an experiment with 100 people and see what effect the burger had on their dreams after they ate it. Over a 10-night period, the subjects’ nightmares increased by 3.5 times, allegedly.

A doctor they worked with for the study said the nightmare-inducing ingredients were a combination of proteins and the cheese; and if my mum taught me one thing growing up, it was to not eat cheesy goods before bed.

Apparently these ingredients led to an “interruption of the subjects’ REM cycles” (that’s the bit where your eyes flicker under your lids from side to side like someone possessed and you dream the most). The launch of the Nightmare King burger was supported by a good piece of video content following the experiment and the campaign received coverage all over America, on the likes of CNBC, Fox News and plenty more, as well as media outlets over here, such as Mail Online, The Sun and Yahoo! UK.

There were plenty of other Halloween PR stunts floating about, but this is my favourite from a brand.  

Bad PR  

Oh Ryanair, you’ve done it again; and this time, it’s bad. The budget airline has been berated on social media after video footage emerged of a male passenger being racially abusive towards an elderly lady.

Delsie Gayle, a 77-year-old member of the Windrush generation who moved to Britain back in the 1960s, was verbally attacked by 70-year-old David Mesher from Birmingham on a flight from Barcelona to London Stansted. What he said was, quite frankly, disgusting (you can Google around if you want to know the ugly details, but they definitely don’t need repeating for you to get the picture of what the poor woman went through).

She had been travelling with her daughter, who came over to confront the man when the commotion began, as did many other passengers in the surrounding seats. Ms Gayle had been sat in the same row of seats as the offending man and hadn’t been able to move out of her aisle seat quickly enough for him to get in and sit down his window seat. After Mesher had hurled abuse at Delsie, the Ryanair staff relocated the her away from him to a different seat.

People are now arguing that he should have been removed from the plane immediately and Ryanair should’ve informed the Spanish authorities.

The Essex Police have since passed on information to the Spanish Authorities, but Ryanair has been pretty quiet on the matter. A nice gesture might’ve been to offer the elderly lady free travel for a year or some other act of kindness for what she endured.

The truth is, this could have unfortunately happened on any airline and it’s not Ryanair’s fault; however with anything like this, it’s all about how you deal with it there and then and in the aftermath and I think it has some crisis PR lessons to learn. Profit losses have added fuel to the negative PR fire too.  

Written by Shannon Peerless, 10 Yetis @ShazzaYeti on Twitter. Seen any good or bad PR lately?
You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or on email

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for free to our twice weekly editorial alert.

We have six email alerts in total - covering ESG, internal comms, PR jobs and events. Enter your email address below to find out more: