Ok, I’m just going to say it. Burger King is the incel of fast food restaurants. We all know the Burger King spokesthing is a disgusting grotesquery of fast food mascots. In the early 2000s, Burger King executives decided that since Mcdonald’s had cornered the market on advertising to young kids, they would focus their ad efforts on teenagers and young adults. Whenever marketers turn their baseball caps backward and try to figure out what teenagers want, it rarely goes well, and this time it went particularly bad. I like to imagine the marketing meeting that created The King started from this teen free association word cloud and went from there:
To celebrate this unholy mascot rebirth, Burger King decided to jump into developing three video games that were initially supposed to be downloadable only from Xbox Live, but the executives were so proud of the games they decided to make physical copies and sell them out of Burger King stores. There were three games in total: Pocketbike Racer, a fairly standard racing game, Big Bumpin, which had something to do with bumper cars, and Sneak King, the weirdest Advergame ever made.
The most insane thing about Sneak King is how it’s exactly the game Burger King wanted it to be. You play a man in a mask sneaking up on unsuspecting victims to give them Burger King. Here’s the thing, if people see you bringing the Burger King, they will not accept it from you. They look at the horror show bringing them food, and run for their lives from the restaurant’s mascot, and this is how the restaurant begged to be portrayed!
Weirder still, these NPCs want to eat. They’re given scores for how hungry they are, and the hungrier they are, the more points you get for delivering food to them. But it doesn’t matter if they’re starving to death on a desert island. If they gaze upon the Burger King mascot with that bag of greasy food they will reach out an emaciated hand and slap it to the ground in disgust. It also looked like shit. Check out the curb appeal of this hungry guy’s house. Hey buddy, if you don’t want to get ambushed by a burger monster, maybe don’t move into a place that looks like a gym toilet.
This guy is starving. He’s thinking, damn, I would love a Whopper. You can see the little cheeseburger above his head like a cartoon cat looking at a pet bird, but if he were to turn around and see the Burger King, he’d yell, “NOT FROM THIS CREATURE.”
And even if you do successfully sneak up on people with the burger, they still scream in fear after they see what’s shoved it into their hand. You do a little victory dance, but you’re alone in it. They don’t seem especially happy to get that burger at all. More like befuddled and threatened… unsure what to do with the burger, definitely not eat it of course, but worried about the consequence of not accepting. It’s like if you were in a car wreck and someone immediately ran up to you and tossed a pizza through your shattered window. You’re not happy, but you’re not going to start an argument about a free pizza.
If you are spotted, the person who spots you points and an alarm goes off. So, in the fictional universe of Sneak King, you play a known pest with a pattern. There are protocols in place to stop you. You are the menace. The city has placed alarms specifically for you and your, almost definitely, sex thing.
The trailer for Sneak King claims The King is the hero of the game, and the enemy he’s fighting is hunger, which doesn’t make any sense unless he’s some kind of Phantom Of The Opera style anti-hero who’s also attempting to teach us a lesson about not judging people by their appearances? Because, again, people around him will literally pass out from hunger rather than take food from this monster. They live their lives on high alert to avoid this pervert’s sudden and unsolicited burgers.
In an interview with Game Informer the year the Burger King games were released, the founder of Blitz, the studio that collaborated with Burger King to make the games, said Burger King brought a lot of game ideas to the table. The developers ended up striking a deal with them where they would get complete creative control over one game, Burger King would get full control over the other, and they would collaborate on the third. Sneak King is the game BK had full creative control over! With unlimited choices and a budget that couldn’t possibly be anything less than “fucking plenty,” they thought this serial burger ambusher simulator was perfect for their brand.
It’s not like they didn’t put a lot of consideration into this game. They really thought about how creepy they wanted it to be. One of the promotional images they circulated was The King hiding in a trash can as a young, unsuspecting, blonde woman approached it. According to the developers, Burger King was precious with their characters. They wanted them to be presented in a specific way; that way just happened to be creepy as hell.
Blitz project managers met almost daily with Burger King’s marketing staff to talk about the characters, but their concerns were weird. They wanted them to be big, taller than all the characters in the game. They also didn’t want The King to be exposed to any danger, without considering that in a video game, if you’re not being exposed to danger, you are the danger. But to that point, in a universe of no danger, what is the game aspect of the game? Burger King Presents: Carefully Turning The Page Of An Antique Book EXXXTREME.
Also, when I say Burger King had firm ideas for what they wanted from their characters, they really only had three characters to worry about: The King, The Subservient Chicken, and Whopper Jr. who were deep cuts from previous commercials of the late ’90s and early 2000s. They padded out the rest of their games by making enduring celebrity model, Brooke Burke, a playable character, along with two generic Burger King employees, a generic biker named Biker, and a woman called Jolly whose role in Burger King world remains unexplained. (I think she might be The King’s parole officer).
I believe it was a man named “Seanbaby” who wrote about this game in the pages of something called a “video game magazine” who asked:
It’s a real shame they spent so much time developing Biker, because there’s a deep, rich, Burger King extended universe they already created in the seventies and eighties. They went with a King Arthur adjacent theme, including Sir Shakes A Lot, who is always cold because he drinks too many shakes, and their Merlin was a french fry replicating robot named The Wizard Of Fries. He doesn’t have a cool wizard hat, and you never really see him perform magic, but he does ride a horse and wear a cowboy hat which means Burger King throws together mascots the same way I throw together birthday sex: wizard, robot, cowboy.
I tell you that only to show how Burger King has never known how to handle their characters. They brought The King back from retirement but left a wizard, robot, cowboy on the shelf because there’s no way that would appeal to eighteen-year-old stoners hungry for a late night snack.
When Burger King eventually decided to ditch The King as their Mascot, their CFO told Bloomberg news it was because he “tended to scare away women and children.” Yeah, no dip. He looked like he ripped the skin off children who spent the night in his museum. And do you think maybe this didn’t help, Burger King?
“Our Mascot will follow you home, laaaadies” is not going to draw women into your restaurant, my guys. Burger King does this all the time. They run weird, hyper-aggressive or hyper-sexual campaigns under the assumption “all publicity is good publicity,” and this will get us in the news. Remember when they tweeted, “Women belong in the kitchen” on international women’s day? It was to promote culinary scholarships for women they were providing, but also, it wasn’t. It was being an edgelord for publicity because that’s Burger King’s whole thing. They’re not sure who their ideal customer is, but they think he’s probably an asshole.
I honestly think Sneak King is the worst example of Burger King attempting to be edgy and tripping into creep territory, which is really saying something considering they once advertised their Spongebob Squarepants BK big kids meal with a parody video of Baby Got Back implying Spongebob was fucking Sandy Cheeks. I’m sorry, that’s just ridiculous because canonically, Spongebob reproduces by budding. He would find this disgusting:
Listen, I get it. Their fries are pretty good when they’re hot, and not many other fast food franchises carry onion rings. I’m not saying Burger King is any more evil than any other corporate overlord, but I do think they hate their customers a little bit more than other restaurants. Whenever they release a new ungodly hybrid of cheeto and meat, or tweet a pic of the Subservient Chicken in full bondage gear in front of a fryer with the caption, “batter me, daddy,” they’re spitting in your face and saying, “Yeah, you like that, don’t you. We act this way because of you!”
*Thanks to Burger King for sponsoring this article!