- For the nationwide rollout of the Impossible Whopper today, Burger King partnered with esports brand FaZe Clan on a livestream promotion, according to esports publisher Dexerto. The Impossible Whopper, tested at select Burger King locations for months, uses the Impossible Foods brand's plant-based beef alternative.
- Starting at 4 p.m. ET, popular members of the Los Angeles-based FaZe Clan will stream with a guest appearance by The King, Burger King's mascot. In a tweet posted Wednesday, FaZe Clan nodded to a surprise for fans during the stream.
- Burger King has dabbled in esports before, livestreaming with influencers Jack "CouRage" Dunlop and Seth "Scump" Abner last November, per Dexerto. The company announced the Impossible Whopper was expanding nationwide earlier this month.
Burger King is ramping up marketing for the nationwide rollout of its plant-based Whopper, and the FaZe Clan partnership shows how the brand is targeting young, largely male audiences that favor esports and livestreaming. The company has leveraged previous livestreaming efforts to encourage delivery orders via DoorDash, though it's unclear what "surprise" is in store for FaZe Clans followers later today.
We partnered up with @BurgerKing to help launch their Impossible Whopper ????— FaZe Clan ???? (@FaZeClan) August 8, 2019
Watch @Temperrr, @cizzorz, @liljarviss, & @Dubsfn stream with the King this Thursday at 1pm. Surprise coming for you guys too! pic.twitter.com/Wt8cwwFXz5
FaZe Clan is among the more high-profile esports organizations and works with other major brands like Nissan and website builder Wix. The total esports audience is forecast to reach 380 million this year, representing 14% year-over-year growth, according to the consultancy NJ Games. The firm expects that number to climb to 557 million by 2021, with an audience comprised of 62% men and 38% women.
Brands joining influencers on gaming livestreams or hosting their own is growing more common. For its Baconfest promotion last month, Wendy's streamed "Fortnite" on Twitch, dishing out codes during the broadcast for free Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers with no delivery fee via DoorDash.
With its latest stream, Burger King is looking to capitalize on hype around the Impossible Whopper. Rivals like Red Robin and White Castle have also teamed with Impossible Foods while Beyond Meat's plant-based products are available at chains like Carl's Jr., Bareburger, Qdoba and Del Taco. Burger King's marketing for its meat-free menu items has been particularly aggressive.
Around the announcement of the Impossible Whopper going nationwide, the chain opened an Impossible-branded restaurant that attracted long lines of social media followers who were surprised to find out that all the food at the location was provided by Burger King.
In Sweden last month, Burger King ran a blind taste-test where there was a 50/50 chance orders of Rebel Whopper or Rebel Chicken King sandwiches were real meat or plant-based. Consumers could guess the answer and scan their packaging with a smartphone to see whether they were correct.
But Burger King's tests of plant-based offerings haven't been free of controversy. The Swedish promotion came just weeks after some New York customers ordering the Impossible Whopper through the local delivery platform Seamless received regular Whopper sandwiches instead, causing outrage. Burger King attributed the mistake to a "technical error" and apologized, according to Eater New York.
Impossible Foods has also faced criticism for prioritizing large national restaurant chains over smaller players amid shortages of its product, as reported in our sister publication Restaurant Dive. The company's early tests with Burger King covered 60 restaurants, but the nationwide expansion reaches 7,200 locations. Impossible Foods announced it was raising an additional $300 million to help out with production strains in May.