McDonald’s Corp. gave a cool reaction to Burger King’s proposal to sell a hybrid “McWhopper” sandwich for charity, suggesting the two companies should aim higher in an attempt to “make a difference.”
Burger King made the proposal on Wednesday in an open letter to its long-time rival, calling it a cease-fire treaty. The idea was to create a combination of each company’s signature burger -- Big Mac and Whopper -- and sell it at a pop-up restaurant in Atlanta for one day. The proceeds from the McWhopper diplomacy would go to a charity that promotes world peace. Burger King said it was an attempt to set aside the burger wars for one day, for a good cause.
McDonald’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Easterbrook didn’t take the bait. In a post on Facebook, he said his company would “be in touch” about Burger King’s plan. But he indicated that the nation’s two largest hamburger chains could do better than a hybrid sandwich.
“We love the intention but think our two brands could do something bigger to make a difference,” he said. “We commit to raise awareness worldwide, perhaps you’ll join us in a meaningful global effort?”
Easterbrook also suggested that a war analogy was overblown.
“Let’s acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war,” he said, adding that “a simple phone call will do next time.”
To draw attention to its gambit, Burger King took out full- page advertisements Wednesday in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune, the hometown paper for Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald’s.
“We’re being completely transparent with our approach because we want them to take it seriously,” Fernando Machado, senior vice president for global brand management at Burger King, said in a statement. “It would be amazing if McDonald’s agrees to do this.”
Burger King created a website, mcwhopper.com, that includes a proposed recipe for the McWhopper. The sandwich has six ingredients from the Big Mac (including special sauce, all-beef patty and cheese), and six from the Whopper (flame-grilled patty, onion, pickles, etc.).
The Miami-based chain, a division of the Warren Buffett- backed Restaurant Brands International Inc., also mocked up hybrid employee uniforms and packaging for the burgers.
If it happens, the event would be held on Sept. 21, known as World Peace Day. The proceeds would benefit Peace One Day, a nonprofit that wants to make that date an “annual day of global unity, a day of intercultural cooperation on a scale that humanity has never known.”
Burger King said it chose Atlanta for the pop-up restaurant because it’s roughly halfway between the headquarters of the two companies.
“As two of the world’s largest brands, we’re in the perfect position to influence change and leverage our size, scope and resources to help make the world a better place,” the company said in a video on the McWhopper site. “Let’s end the beef, with beef.”