Burger King ‘Real Meals’ Remind Us It’s Okay Not to be OK


Over 44 million American adults have a mental health issue and the number of young people suffering from it has increased.

The contributing factors to the growing number of people suffering with poor mental health are complicated and while awareness is increasing, it is still considered a taboo subject for some.

In collaboration with Mental Health America, Burger King tackled the important issue in line with Mental Health Awareness Month. The fast-food chain released a series of ‘Real Meals’ in select stores alongside a thought-provoking video on social media.

Delivering a poignant message, the meals are packaged in a box with the phrase, ‘no one is happy all the time’ printed on it. Various emotions are represented in different colours and displayed on the packing, including the Pissed, Sad or DGAF (Don’t Give a F***) meal, to name a few.

Burger King Real Meals

Burger King has a history of successful experiential campaigns to drive awareness of societal issues, from a politically-charged campaign in Brazil to highlight the consequences of giving a null vote to an emotive Anti-Bullying campaign.

The hamburger restaurant chain is no stranger to making jeers at its competitors either so when it released the ‘Real Meals’ it was clear these were a playful dig at the McDonald’s Happy Meals.

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But there is a predominant serious tone to this thought-provoking stunt. The ad tagline, ‘Feel Your Way’, is a natural extension from the brand’s trademark phrase, ‘Be Your Way’ and reminds people that they shouldn’t need to feel happy all the time.

The video opens with a stark message that not everyone wakes up feeling good. Told via a song, the narrative includes real stories from a number of young people experiencing negative emotions from a high school student experiencing bullying to a young mum worried about being judged.

The ‘Real Meals’ have not been a hit with everyone though and some consumers have argued that the marketing strategy is an attempt to capitalise off mental illness. To which the Burger King CMO, Fernando Machado, responded, “we are not really making any money off this campaign” and it’s more about “raising awareness to the fact that it’s ok to express your emotions and that you don’t need to be happy all the time.”

The new meals are served at select restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle and Austin. Consumers who purchase a Whopper meal will receive their food in a package with one of the five different colours (or emotions) on the box.

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The highly-engaging and provocative campaign has certainly got people talking about the brand and shows that Burger King isn’t afraid to push the boundaries to raise awareness of key issues.

The brand isn’t alone in tackling sensitive subjects to educate and engage consumers. A highly-memorable campaign from Testicular Cancer New Zealand encouraged men not be afraid to get tested for testicular cancer while the One Love foundation took aim at abusive relationships with a controversial Valentine’s Day pop-up shop.

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Author bio


With nearly 30 years of marketing experience, both client and agency side, I’ve acquired a rare perspective on brands and business: I believe you have to challenge things creatively if you want to grow sales. Consumer technology is reshaping our world, and it’s only the great brands that stay on the crest.