Brisbane burger chain Burger Urge says it won’t be backing down from having fun with its marketing campaigns, even after having to incur thousands of dollars in costs as a result of Australia Post refusing to distribute flyers for its “Kim Jong Yum” burger.
The fast food business has told fans the postal service “nuked” its campaign for the burger, which makes reference to North Korea’s leader, by refusing to distribute 70,000 flyers advertising the new product because it believes the flyers breach the advertising industry’s code of ethics.
The Kim Jong Yum burger poster in question includes an image of Kim Jong Un riding a missile, and makes reference to burger ingredients such as “ballistic pork belly”.
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The burger chain says it received a “last minute hell-no” after arranging for the posters to be distributed by Australia Post and dropping these off for delivery weeks ago.
“The team at Burger Urge HQ have received a last-minute hell-no from Australia Post when asked to letter bomb advertising for the latest taste sensation. With shots fired from Australia Post less than 24 hours before the delivery deadline … [Burger Urge] has been left with 70,000 flyers homeless and thousands of locals hungry,” the company said in a statement.
The company says Australia Post got in contact after the flyers had been dropped off for distribution to inform the company it would not be proceeding with postage because it believes campaign breached the Association Australia of National Advertisers (AANA) code.
Burger Urge told The Courier Mail it booked the delivery job with Australia Post three weeks earlier, and was only told the flyers wouldn’t be delivered on the day they were supposed to be sent out, resulting in out of pocket costs of $10,000. Burger Urge has since posted positions on Airtasker to have the flyers delivered.
Burger Urge says it was told by Australia Post that it cannot deliver communications that demean any grouping of people, and a spokesperson for the mail carrier told SmartCompany its “unaddressed mail” delivery service requires client to sign off on terms and conditions when making a booking. These terms say Australia Post can inspect materials before being sent out to make sure they align with community standards.
“Our terms and conditions for this service, which the customer acknowledges they have read when they make a booking, allow us to examine a sample copy of any article and to refuse delivery of any article that contains text or images, which do not meet current community standards or expectations, may cause offence to a reasonable person, or may contain material which is defamatory or offensive,” the spokesperson said.
However, a spokesperson for Burger Urge tells SmartCompany that despite the controversy, the business will not back down from the tone of its marketing materials.
“Entertainment in marketing is key. With this particular campaign it was never designed to offend anyone. The vast majority of the public have been able to see the humour behind it,” the spokesperson said.
Burger Urge co-founder Sean Carthew has previously told SmartCompany controversy has never bothered the brand. The company’s previous campaigns have generated complaints to the Advertising Standards Board, including one in 2013 in which a woman is shown licking a cow’s face.
Burger Urge has taken to Facebook to ask its fans what it thinks of the Australia Post decision to refuse delivery, and in return, has received plenty of offers from the general public to deliver the ads.
Should Burger Urge heed warnings?
Despite the brand’s insistence that it will stick with its messaging, director of Marketing Angels Michelle Gamble warns Australia Post may have had a good reason for objecting to delivery in this case.
“Politically, it’s a very sensitive time,” she says.
In general, brands should think carefully if a key player or partner is showing concern about your messaging, she says.
“I think if Australia Post is warning them, then that is a red flag, as with any partner or anyone else who says, ‘we don’t want to put this out there’.”
Even if you do stand by a campaign, Gamble warns brands should not completely ignore any criticism levelled at their campaigns.
That said, if a business does come up against a brick wall when trying to get communications out there, there is little use in starting a feud with a party like Australia Post, she says.
“I don’t think it is worth going into battle, I think it’s a lot of wasted energy,” she says.