Watch: Burger King’s powerful anti-bullying experiment

1 min read


Usually, when great big corporations muddle in social issues, it can come off as cheesy at best – and tonally inappropriate and downright offensive at worst. This new anti-bullying PSA from Burger King though is just perfect.

It’s a simple premise. They had a high school junior bullied, and whopper Jr’s bullied – to see which people would get upset about most.

“Did you order it bullied or unbullied?” a worker at the counter ask when an unhappy customer questions him over the beaten burger. “Had you seen me bullying this burger, would you have stood up and said something?” The customer – who had just watched a kid being bullied and did nothing – responds, “Yeah.”

According to the ad, while 95% of patrons spoke up about their mishandled burgers, just 12% actually stood up against bullying of a human being.

The difference? Having a burger that’s been manhandled affects people directly, while watching some kid being roughed up just cause a bit of discomfort. As somebody who has bullied, and has been bullied, the ad hit me hard. It’s the sort of thing that I hope helps people question their actions before they’re abusive.  Unfortunately, it really is often easier to do nothing.

“It’s been hard for me to stand up for other people because I feel like I’m already a target,” says one student in the ad. “It’s just easier to do nothing,” said another.

“We know that bullying takes on many forms, physical, verbal, relational and online. But the first step to putting an end to bullying is to take a stand against it,” said No Bully’s CEO and founder, Nicholas Carlisle to Adweek. “Our partnership with Burger King is an example of how brands can bring positive awareness to important issues. You have to start somewhere, and they chose to start within.”

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Last Updated: October 23, 2017

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Magoo

    Bullying is not something that can be solved, kids will never grow up fast enough to wholly abstain. The only solution I see is to do exactly what’s shown here^ – actively stand up to it. Don’t turn a blind eye. Even if you can’t teach the bully a lesson, you can help the victim.

    • Hammersteyn


    • That’s it. We need to teach people to stand up to it – even if it’s just to let those being bullied that they’re not alone.

      • Skittle

        No, we need to send our young into the heart of the Okavango Delta. The strong will emerge to take their rightful place in society. Those that do not make it aren’t worthy of our grief.

          • Admiral Chief

            [Whilst holding the conch]
            Excuse me, you don’t have the conch, you cannot speak

          • Original Heretic

            Lords of the Fries?

          • Admiral Chief

            FLIED LICE?

          • Original Heretic

            Shit, no, I didn’t mean that to be racist. I was thinking “burger, fries” and “that’s from Lord of the Flies”.

            And now I’m realizing that I made that comment on something an Asian guy posted….

          • Admiral Chief

            Geoff gives me enough poef about my culture, I give it right back at ’em. Becoz I love his face

          • Original Heretic

            He upvoted my original comment, so he took no offence (cheers, Geoff!).
            But I still feel a bit bad, though.

          • Admiral Chief

            You should feel bad. You insulted the exalted overlord!

          • Original Heretic

            Who you trying to impress by saying that? You looking to earn Geoff-points?


            Does Geoff ever refer to his home as his “spot”?
            *sly grin*

          • don’t. I saw it immediately as a reference to BK. Thought it was clever as hell tbh.

          • Original Heretic

            I blame Admiral. His “Flied lice” response made me realize it was borderline dodge.

          • Admiral Chief

            IT’S A TRAP

          • Original Heretic

            Yes you are.

          • You have no culture. 🙂

          • Admiral Chief

            Didn’t you hear? Afrikaans was voted the most sexy EKSENT on the Erf!

          • Original Heretic

            By who? Residents of Brakpan?

  • Admiral Chief

    Whoa, deep

    • Hammersteyn

      Unlimited refills deep.

      • Admiral Chief

        I’ve never had BK…

        • Hammersteyn

          It’s not bad, better than McDonalds. But that’s like saying luckily I lost just one leg to diabetes instead of two.

  • konfab

    I will have a Whopper burger minus the politics please…

    This isn’t public service announcement, it is advertising through virtue signalling.

    • Magoo

      While the most likely case is that it’s just a blatant PR campaign, I don’t see what it has to do with politics? Or how it affects your burger? At the end of the day, apart from an increase in BK popularity, only good things can come from this. So I’ll bite.

      • konfab

        Bullying has nothing to do with the quality of the burger, therefore why does Burger King feel the need to advertise that they are anti-bullying?

        • Magoo

          I don’t know how you think that’s a valid argument in any sense. But you’re entitled to your view.

          • Alessandro Barbosa

            If someone is this disturb by a corporation using its influence to shed light on a social issue (while advertising, sure), it tells you all you probably need to know about their “views” on society

          • Skittle

            I think he is trying to say that BK has two motives for this campaign. 1 – to highlight the bullying issue, 2 – marketing.

            That said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with advertising and pushing for a good cause at the same time (as long as it is not distasteful (that whole Pepsi protest saga))

          • I was alludiong to the pepsi thing when I spoke about things being tonally inappropriate. This, I didn’t feel that way about.

          • konfab

            You bemoan the fact that a corporation has a large amount of influence by allowing a corporation to sell you its brand by using your feelings?

          • Alessandro Barbosa

            I didn’t bemoan it? I applaud it using its large platform to point people towards tools and groups that are directly involved in trying to solve this issue at its root. If anything, you’re the one bemoaning the effort.

      • Dresden

        Same here. At least they’re spreading a positive message while exposing their brand (instead of using the generic half naked people/ shiny sports cars).

    • Alessandro Barbosa

      If an attempt to curb bullying is a negative, you have a severely broken moral compass

      • konfab

        The way to address bullying is to provide psychological counselling to bullies and their victims. I shouldn’t need to tell anyone here that there are legitimate reasons why kids bully each other. And unfortunately it isn’t going anywhere because I think it is something that is intrinsic to socialisation.

        Making a soppy advert isn’t going to stop kids from bullying because it doesn’t address the causes. It is like telling people that murder is illegal, it isn’t going to address the reasons why people murder.

        As usual, pointing this stuff out makes me an evil, pro-bullying Nazi. Fortunately, I was told by my school councillor that it doesn’t really matter what people you don’t care about think of you.

        • Admiral Chief

          Maybe it provides just a little bit of awareness, and maybe that helps a little bit.

          I see your point, but also, I believe it was more done in the light of awareness over the “buy our stuff” approach

          • konfab

            No, it is pure advertising. They want to be seen as the brand that cares about bullying.

            From a marketing point of view it is brilliant, as everyone who shuts it down as stupid advertising is immediately seen as being anti-bullying. And it allows the advertising to be posted outside their traditional networks- like on a gaming website….

          • Admiral Chief

            Well, for me, what I remember from the ad, was not the whole BK thing, but was the “burger bully” being directly shown (smashed burger).

            I think the overall message was far greater than the “ad” part of it

          • BakedBagel

            As much as i like an anti-bullying message, I agree with you.
            People assume adverts are a brand talking to you about a position of interest.
            Instead of the brand using adverts to sell you something.

            Unless you are pepsi and turn into a brand meme

        • Alessandro Barbosa

          “The way to address bullying is to provide psychological counselling to bullies and their victims.”

          Like the organization the ad encourages people to support?

          “No Bully is an evidence based program that leverages student empathy to bring this crisis to an end. Since 2009 the non-punitive No Bully System has created bully-free schools for over 120,000 students”

          • konfab

            Have you actually gone to that organisation’s site and read what they do?

            1) A copyrighted solution to end bullying? Alarm bells should be going off.
            2) An organisation that wants people to pay them to certify them to be part of said copyrighted solution? More bells going off
            “How much: The license fee of $3,500 is inclusive of the three-day training, any follow up coaching and a one-year site license to deliver the No Bully Solution Coach® Training at your school. (Travel and hotel costs not included.) $500 for each additional site or to renew.

            3) Nothing to back up that 120 000 claim, the link where it is meant to be seen is broken. I would bet all that means is that their No-Bully system only covers 120 000 students, as it is impossible to determine whether a school is bullying free by the very fact that some people don’t report bullying. For an”evidence-based” people, they haven’t provided anything to back up that claim.

            What Burger King is actually doing is not telling people to pay for psychological counselling for kids, what they are doing is telling people to pay for support an organisation that is selling a system.

            An analogy would be Burger King telling everyone to donate to an organisation that raises Cancer awareness. Which does nothing compared to an organisation that helps Cancer patients pay for their treatment, or pays for Cancer research.

          • Alessandro Barbosa

            Report that details the effect this specific program has had on schools over a five year period, which is linked on the site

          • konfab

            Firstly, that is a white paper, not anything published in a reputable journal.

            Then there is the awful fact that not a single paragraph listing the 120 000 kids that are apparently free of bullying. That figure is starting to look like B.S.

            Also from the white paper (not peer reviewed):
            “While not part of a large scale randomized study, these findings are promising for a field that is still struggling to find effective interventions.”

            Do I need to give you statistics 101 on the value of random sampling? For example, the “study” doesn’t have any sorts of controls for what happens if kids get registered but don’t go on their program?

          • Alessandro Barbosa

            “I don’t like virtue signalling in my burger ads”

            “Ok they’re trying to shed light on bullying”

            “Bullying needs to be solved with psychological help for victims and perpetrators.”

            “Yeah cool here’s an organisation that BK and other companies are endorsing and financially back that do just that in schools”

            “This org says its helped so many students and post no proof”

            “Look here’s an independent study conducted over five years showing that many students at schools were positively impacted by the program”

            “Ok no wait how is that study trustworthy and hey what about the students it didn’t help.”

            So from these (tiring) exchanges, look how far your argument has shifted because you disliked an advert that actually had something more to say than “buy our shit now”. Instead of “hey this ad is actually trying to say something and pointing people towards an org that has actually made a difference”, it’s “fuck this bullshit and the org for not helping enough”.

            So no, I don’t need a Stats 101, sociological rant or anything really further, because it’s clear again from this and previously frivolous discussions we’ve had that you have a single view on society and perceive it as unable to change. So instead of positive messaging such as this you’ll choose to find a way to bring it down and just keep things “the way they are”.

            It’s a truly depressing, and frankly just a strange view to constantly get involved with. As you continue pushing the status quo, others will seek to change it.

          • konfab

            You are complaining that I have a singular world view, yet I was the first one here to point out that BK’s motivations for this might not be as pure as you think they are.

            Would it be better for you if I didn’t subject you to a different point of view? That way you can carry on playing soggy marie with everyone else here, oblivious to how you are being emotionally manipulated? Is that what you really want?

            You lot claim to value diversity, but as usual, it isn’t the type of diversity that actually matters: diversity of opinion.

            I find it really funny when you claim that I have a singular world view. I have it down to a T on exactly which buttons to press with you lot simply because this site is predominantly populated with people who are left of center. And the moment that some evil person like myself points out the glaringly obvious: I am accused of having a “seriously broken moral compass”.

            You lot need people like me more than you think.

          • Alessandro Barbosa

            You’re right – we certainly need more individuals who look at a positive message, with a legitimate method to try and get people involved in actual, real-world differences to back up that message, and try and tear it all to the ground with misguided, shifting arguments with no real point to back them up aside from playing the other side.

            We’d be much better off…

          • konfab

            So you just want me to believe everything that Burger King and No Bully say, just because it you say it is a positive message? That sounds awfully dogmatic and religious.

            My “shifting” argument is simply me addressing the criticisms that you have been making, not once have I actually gone back on my original premise that BK is doing this for profit. If I were shifting my argument, I would be saying (for example) that BK isn’t making any profit from this, but they are still doing it for nefarious purposes anyway.

          • Alessandro Barbosa

            “So you just want me to believe everything that Burger King and No Bully say, just because it you say it is a positive message?” – Nope, in no way insinuating that. But even presented with evidence of positive change you’ve made it clear that it’s not, maybe, “enough”, so burn it to the ground.

            “…BK isn’t making any profit from this, but they are still doing it for nefarious purposes anyway.” – Marketing isn’t nefarious, and BK getting a kick out of giving a massive platform and financially backing an institution aimed at directly combating the thing they are highlighting is pretty much A-Ok. The fact that you seem to find that off-putting doesn’t make it evil

          • konfab

            “Marketing isn’t nefarious, and BK getting a kick out of giving a massive platform and financially backing an institution aimed at directly combating the thing they are highlighting is pretty much A-Ok. The fact that you seem to find that off-putting doesn’t make it evil”

            Why don’t you look at why they are doing this? Could it be that they would prefer paying for some positive PR as opposed to paying their employees a better wage? Do you think it is a bad thing to look at why BK is doing this?

            If the Guptas suddenly built an orphanage with all the money they have looted, would you say they are doing it because they care about orphans?

          • Alessandro Barbosa

            Also just still trying not to laugh at Random Internet Guy (TM) looking at a report with two pages of references, written by a doctorate in Sociology at an independent consulting firm for NPOs as “nah, not enough for me. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT HOW SOCIETY WORKS”

            Comedy, really

        • Steffmeister

          I also dislike the fake SJW virtue signaling thing, but as someone who was constantly bullied at school, I completely disagree with you.
          The one thing that would have helped was other kids/people standing up with me against these bullies, but that NEVER happened EVER. If some people can just realize this it would help a lot.
          I don’t care if this was for marketing purpose. It gets the right message across.

          • konfab

            People do not stand up for anyone if they think it will hurt their social standing. That is a cruel fact of life if you want to live in a world occupied by human beings.

            The only way you can ever get around bullying is to actually go to the bullies and figure out why they are actually doing what they do.

          • Steffmeister

            The point is that the victim is often powerless to do anything about it. Most actions make things worse for them. (trust me I know) Someone else needs to step up. I don’t mean fight back, but act/speak up/step in. That’s the first step to some of your own solutions you have been mentioning. But no one does this. Everyone just cares about their own social standing.

    • I don’t think bullying of children is politics. It’s a moral issue that everyone should work together to stop. Just because they are getting a solid marketing kick out of it doesn’t change the core message.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    Since when was it not okay to bully beef?

  • Original Heretic

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I hope those people who didn’t say anything felt damn ashamed for not standing up to those bullies.

  • Gr8_Balls_o_Fire

    Solution is simple.

    Shame the bullies.

  • Damn what a brilliant advert. Well done to BK for using their marketing power to get a simple message across.

    Also what the hell is wrong with society that they just sit back and allow that. Come on humanity, we can seriously do better.,

    • Admiral Chief

      Well to be fair, if you confront such asshat kids what stops them from getting the (likely un-involved) parents to sue your ass.

      Correct way in a perfect world is a swift PK, sadly, a swift PK will swiftly get you in hot water

      • You don’t need to hit them to get involved. I’d like to but you can also just do as the lady did in the advert and put yourself in the middle

        • Admiral Chief

          Man, that was uber inspiring. Hat’s off to that lady. I was really impressed

  • Sabretruthtiger

    All the bullies are white males and the victims minorities FFS. This is racist, if it were round the other way there’d be outrage.

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