Common Tread

Does Burger King's new campaign promote burgers, or lanesplitting?

May 10, 2019

Up to five hours a day. 

That’s how long drivers in Mexico City can spend waiting in traffic in a day of commuting. The Mexican capital arguably has the worst gridlock in the world.

Strangely enough, Burger King saw “a badass opportunity” in this mess. Consider: People in traffic for hours at a time get hungry. Very hungry. What if there was a way to deliver food to all those drivers?

The answer, BK decided, was lane splitting. Enter the Traffic Jam Whopper.

BK uses traffic data to find traffic jams near their chain locations. Using Burger King’s app, customers can place an order, which is delivered to the depths of the congestion by motorcyclists. Digital billboards and app notifications help connect riders with their customers. Deliveries are guided to their final destination using the customer’s GPS signal, even if they’re moving. What a time to be alive. Delivery orders spiked 63 percent and BK saw 44 times more app downloads than usual after the campaign rolled out. By these numbers, the Traffic Jam Whopper is a huge success. 

I think there’s a little more to consider than big sales and downloads. BK claims the ordering process could be done completely hands-free, but I doubt that everyone’s keeping their hands firmly at diez and dos. And push notifications mean the app is drawing attention to the phone, not the road, but that might not bother some people, since Mexico City looks like a parking lot in most of these shots. And this is only for Mexico, right?

Burger King delivery bike
Hey, that looks a lot like the engine in the CSC SG250... Maybe Burger King can put it to use. Burger King photo.

For now, yes, but BK says they’re bringing the service to Los Angeles, as well as São Paulo and Shanghai. Will American drivers have a better opinion of lane splitters if they're delivering hamburgers?

To me, this campaign says more about motorcycles than it does about highway hunger pangs. If motorcycles can move so freely through the jam, why not… just ride a motorcycle in the first place instead of eating a Whopper in your gridlocked car? I’d be doing anything I could to cut down those five hours in traffic. The delivery drivers seem to have no issue cutting through the traffic. And yet, there are hardly any bikes at all on the roads shown in BK’s video. Food for thought.

One more thing. If you end up working as a delivery rider for Burger King, shoot me an email. I want to hear how that works out for ya.