Burger King’s marketing team might have been sampling some of the fast food chain’s newly released Salty Meal when creating its May promotion honoring Mental Health Awareness Month.
“No one is happy all the time,” Burger King said Wednesday, unveiling its Real Meal boxes, which “come in a variety of different moods – and happy isn’t one of them”—an apparent jab at McDonald’s iconic Happy Meal.
Customers can order their Whopper, fries, and drink inside a colorful Pissed, Blue, Salty, DGAF, or YAAAS box at select locations in Los Angeles, New York City, Austin, Seattle, and Miami while supplies last.
The mental-health awareness tie-in, also taps into an advertising trend.
“We see [quick serve restaurants] increasingly taking marketing risks to find cultural relevance and claim attention across social media spheres, especially in response to moves from their competitors,” Corey Chafin, principal in the consumer and retail practice of A.T. Kearney, tells Fortune via email. “From Dunkin Donuts’ recent cheeky reaction to the McDonald’s release of Donut Sticks to Wendy’s well-known social media boldness, Burger King’s provocative Real Meals promotion only adds to this list.”
Although the Real Meal may appear to be a snarky toward its rival, Burger King didn’t present it that way. The new campaign, in partnership with Mental Health America, is a “natural extension” of its traditional brand messaging, the fast food chain said. This is illustrated in its new ad, below, that adapts its classic “Have It Your Way” jingle to have the lyrics: “Feel Your Way.”
“Critically important is that these messages are executed carefully and authentically,” Chafin said. “Though potentially controversial, a positive reception is typically achieved, especially among millennials who are increasingly seeking relevant values-based brands rather than an exclusive focus on value.”
As can be expected with any promotion, there has been a mixed response on Twitter. While some consumers have praised the company for spreading mental health awareness.
And others poked fun.
Critics questioned the sincerity of Burger King’s efforts in the mental health space beyond creating a trending campaign, particularly in terms of resources for its workers.
Although Burger King declined to comment for the article, it did note in a news release: “With the pervasive nature of social media, there is so much pressure to appear happy and perfect.”
Mental Health America’s president and CEO, Paul Gionfriddo, however, praised Burger King in a statement, noting the company was “bringing much-needed awareness to this important and critical discussion – and letting its customers know that [it] is OK to not be OK.”