There are two plausible reactions to a new Instagram campaign from Burger King.
The first: Dope, burgers!
The second: Dang, brands are about to clog up my Stories feed.
Spanish Burger King used Instagram Stories' polling feature to allow customers to build their own Whoppers — and then get promo codes and actually redeem them. After choosing their ingredients, customers received a code that would let them pick up their custom burgers. Based on the most popular choices, Burger King España is now offering the "Instagram Whopper" for a limited time.
The stats provided by the advertising agency behind the campaign, LOLA MullenLowe Madrid, show that people were into it ... in a big way. More than 45,000 unique users engaged with the story, which is more than 80 percent of the account's followers. Burger King ran out of redeemable codes within 3 hours.
The agency said Burger King Spain gained more than 5,000 followers in a single day from the stunt. @BurgerKing_ES now has 53.5k followers.
TBH, the stats aren't that surprising. Free burgers plus customization certainly sounds like a ~ recipe ~ for success. But the campaign's effectiveness could also portend the end of your Stories feed as you know it.
Clearly, Instagram Stories are a powerful way for brands to engage with customers. But, at this point, there's no way for brands to actively serve their stories to people who don't follow them. That limits the reach of campaigns.
Instead, Instagram serves skippable interstitial advertisements between friends' Stories. But considering the popularity of Instagram Stories, successful cases like Burger King's that harness Stories' interactivity, and Facebook's tendency to insert branded content into anything resembling a "feed," sponsored Stories within the Stories of friends could be coming soon. At least, if advertisers have their way.
"We think that it’s interesting for us, for brands and also for people, if it’s done in the right way," Francisco Cassis, the executive creative director of LOLA MullenLowe Madrid, said. "It’s a form of storytelling that can be very engaging and drive people to take action if [the ads] are not boring or invasive."
Cassis said paid placement in story feeds would "definitely" be an attractive feature for them.
"Agencies and brands would absolutely be interested in this feature," Kyle Boots, Young & Rubicam (Y&R) and BAV Group's director of brand & social analytics, agreed. He touted Stories' ability to "gamify traditional paths to purchase," and enable a more personal and conversational interaction between brands and Instagram users. This quality holds a higher appeal to Gen Z, according to Boots — and that's a coveted purchasing and tastemaker demographic.
Burger King España is certainly not the only brand using Stories for campaigns, but I was surprised that many of the brands that routinely serve me ads on Instagram (such as Instagram-native bra companies) don't feature Stories. Since they don't enable the reach of sponsored posts, they may not be worth the investment to create.
"Some brands use Instagram Stories incredibly well, but it’s not as common," Boots said. "The challenge here is that many people underestimate the impact of Stories, as well as the level of creativity and personalization required."
To be clear, Instagram has given no indication that sponsored stories, appearing in line with friends' stories, is in the pipeline. Mashable has reached out to Instagram to comment, and will update this when and if we hear back.
However, Facebook has pulled just this move of integrating sponsored posts in the same feed as organic content in the past, in particular, with news feed and videos. Despite Facebook's recent delineation that "fake news is not your friend," the intermingling of paid posts among friends' updates is almost like their, oh, business model and value proposition, or something.
Then there's the recent executive reorganization, which placed Chris Cox at the helm of Facebook's app businesses, including Instagram. Cox built and oversaw newsfeed, so he could be bringing his expertise in the organic-meets-sponsored-feed arena to businesses like Instagram, too.
So are Instagram Stories' days numbered as a sponsored-post free feed? It's too soon to say. But Burger King's success with this ad may certainly have bigger players sniffing around.
Then again, a story feed clogged with thirsty brands might just be worth it for the free burgers.