Burger King has added Darth Vader to its roster of unsettling spokespeople with the launch of a new branded entertainment site by Crispin Porter + Bogusky.
Called “The Sith Sense,” the branded experience, at sithsense.com, uses Crispin’s oft-employed “talk to the site” format to let surfers go up against Lord Vader himself in a game of twenty questions.
It’s a model the agency used to great effect for BK’s Subservient Chicken viral hit and, to a lesser extent, for Method. Rather than typing instructions or confessions, as those sites do, visitors to Sith Sense are told to think of an object and then answer a series of multiple choice questions Vader poses to guess what the object is. During game play, the cyborg villain flings a string of insults at the player, including “This is a battle of wits, and clearly you are unarmed.”
The site’s been in concept and production for about six weeks. Crispin partnered with 20Q on the database that underlies Vader’s object-guessing abilities, and New York-based Firstborn spliced together the video and animation elements.
The effort adds Vader to a growing list of unusual spokespeople Crispin has deployed in BK campaigns over the last year. Others include the Subservient Chicken and “The King,” a plastic-faced revival of the company’s original character.
Those two characters make cameo appearances on Sith Sense. When Vader has asked between 15 and 20 questions, The King approaches him and whispers in his ear. He then retreats and Vader makes his guess. Then, after Vader has bested the player, the Subservient Chicken appears in the background and walks backward across the transom of the space ship in which the action is set.
The insertion of these crossover campaign elements is a more overt ad placement than was evident in “Subservient Chicken,” which was notable for its light branding. Jeff Benjamin, Crispin’s interactive creative director, said that was partly because Burger King wanted a stronger brand presence and partly because it worked creatively.
“It seemed so right to have The King come out and whisper in Darth Vader’s ear,” he said. “[The branding] is not super strong, in comparison to how long you interact with it.”
The site provides a link to BK.com, and a “Summon a Friend” email forward button. Crispin has created several TV and print ads featuring Darth Vader and The King. In one TV spot, the two characters engage in a “breathe-off.” At the end of the spot, the Sith Sense URL appears very briefly.
Bejamin said the site had received 100,000 hits as of Monday morning, and was experiencing some performance problems under a heavy server load.
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