Back in the Fall, we worked with Burger King to design and launch an NFT game to promote its Keep it Real Meals, a campaign that had celebrities such as Nelly, Anitta, and Lil Huddy setting aside their fake stage names so they could promote Burger King’s real menu with their real names and their own signature Real Meal.
And as we closed out 2021, we found some time to ask our CEO, Tom Mizzone about this project and get his take on what made it such an exciting and revolutionary project…
Everyone loves a good origin story- how did the hero gain his powers, how did that beloved brand get its start. So tell us, how did Sweet’s collab with Burger King come to be?
Well, we heard Burger King was doing this phenomenal campaign with their Keep it Real Meals campaign where after stripping away all the fake ingredients from their menu, they were ready to celebrate their real menu in a big way. And they came to us because they had this notion that Burger King could use this new tech called NFTs as a way to authenticate these Real Meals. After some ideation and a bit of education — we got them thinking about the potential for this technology beyond just the hype of an NFT drop or a Sotheby's style NFT auction. And when we suggested delivering an NFT on the side of a meal box, they just about fell off their chairs. They were very familiar with QR codes, but the idea that a digital collectible could be delivered immediately via a simple QR scan was mind-blowing.
So as heads were exploding and as you watched people fall back and disappear into their Zoom filters, did you wonder why they were so taken aback?
I think they sort of came to our initial call with a preconceived idea of what was possible; they had seen the Taco Bell NFT, they had likely heard rumblings of what other QSRs had been considering… and I also think there was some confusion about what a brand could do with an NFT. For a lot of brands, 2021 was about checking that NFT box — ‘I guess we should do an NFT … these other brands are doing something, maybe we should do something too’. When we came in talking about strategy, a long-term vision, and about gamification — when we started talking about how they could really engage their guests and keep them coming back, that really reoriented their thinking.
Okay, so you reoriented their thinking, but where did the game come from?
Well, the Burger King team was already intent on tying an NFT component to their Keep it Real Meals campaign and there was a lot of back and forth: Do we include digital merch in the meal box? Do we put a QR code on the side of the box that takes guests into a web experience where they can see the ingredients? Then it turned into — what if we made this into a fun game where when a guest scans a meal box, we randomly can spit out an NFT or digital collectible? If that’s all the consumer wants, they’ve got something very special, but if they want to keep going, maybe we could design it so if they scanned multiple boxes, they had a chance to complete a set. So that concept of giving an NFT with the meal box turned into more of a gamified collection experience where if a guest completes an NFT set, then they win something like digital Burger King crown or a real-world prize like free Whoppers for a year.
Games are great, we’ve all seen brands use games and collector edition items to get our attention before, but what really was the point of all of this, I mean at the end of the day, what problem does a program like this solve?
That’s a great question — every time we get an inbound request from a brand, that’s the first question we like to ask: what is your objective, or what is the problem that we’re trying to solve? Is it to drive more revenue? Is it to drive foot traffic into your stores? Is it to create engagement? Is it just to make sure that you’re cutting edge and not missing this new wave of tech?
In the case of Burger King, they definitely wanted to do something that was fun and leveraged the star power they had secured for the campaign, but they also wanted to reward their guests who are coming to their restaurants. It was an opportunity to drive foot traffic and drive-thru traffic to Burger King’s 7,000+ locations, as well as sell these Celebrity meals. Adding an NFT game element to their main Keep it Real Meals campaign really turned things up a notch and based on the feedback and reactions we’ve gotten from other QSRs and brands, the way Burger King used NFTs in this very strategic and gamified way made a real impact. At the end of the day, it really was about engaging their consumers, rewarding them for their purchases, and delivering a fun experience. And that’s what we love about this space, it’s not just about revenue, it’s about being creative and imaginative with this tech and understanding how it’s evolved and continues to evolve so you can reach consumers through new and novel experiences.
Last question: It’s pretty obvious who Burger King was targeting with this NFT game and it wasn’t the crypto enthusiast, am I right?
You’re exactly right. Everything that we do on the Sweet platform is about bringing in broader consumer bases and allowing brands to engage with more people because revenue does matter and when more consumers are able to participate, it’s going to make an NFT project much more successful than if it was only accessible to a smaller group of savvy users — don’t forget, we put QR codes on 6 Million meal boxes, distributed to over 7,000 restaurants, Burger King was thinking big in terms of target audience. It can be very tempting for a brand to go after a small group of crypto-savvy individuals and sell one or two high-end pieces. But that’s going to be short-lived. The more brands can engage broader audiences, the more they’re going to drive revenue. Everything that we do is about bringing those broader bases in, but in no way are we compromising the experience for the more experienced NFT collector, they can enjoy these programs as well.