The Backlash from Burger King’s Controversial Twitch Donation Commercial: Streamers Deserve Better
The campaign faces backlash and anger from both Twitch streamers and viewers.
On August 18th, 2020, the New York-based advertising agency Ogilvy unveiled a video on Twitter, demonstrating the results of a campaign that used Twitch’s donation feature to get cheap on-stream plugs. Without any collaboration between the parties whatsoever, the Ogilvy marketing team donated exact amounts of Burger King’s “best summer offers,” be it $5 or less. These donations would then appear on stream with a message advertising Burger King which was either read by the streamer or by Twitch’s built-in text-to-voice function.
Plenty of Twitch streamers were frustrated by their inclusion in the marketing campaign without consenting, but until the Ogilvy video, most didn’t realize how many streamers were sent these donation ads.
The streamers’ faces were blurred, their voices were modified, there was no recognition of their part in the campaign beyond using their channel for cheap marketing. Now, the marketing firm Ogilvy is facing backlash and accusations of exploitation from Twitch streamers and viewers alike. Others have continued to criticize the ad in the comments, and some even label the campaign as “unethical” and “scummy.”
Neither Ogilvy nor Burger King has commented on the recent backlash. However, for those who might now understand what triggers the public outrage, here are some shared perspectives from the comment thread:
“I decide if/when/what products I want to advertise,” tweeted BikeMan, a Twitch streamer with over 250,000 followers. “If this started happening on my stream I would refund and block the offending parties. You are trying to be cute while using streamers channels to advertise without prior discussion or consent for your own monetary purposes.” — — @BikeMan
Consent is a key factor. Marketing partnerships come with negotiations on both sides. Say a streamer was a vegetarian and had a moral opposition to promoting Burger King or a streamer had a non-compete after previously working with another Quick Service Restaurant brand, when Ogilvy bypassed the streamer to capitalize on their channel, they took the streamers input out of the message.
“I really despise when companies take advantage of my live content in order to push their ads without clearing it with me first or offering what I should be paid for the marketing, which is more than $5 I’m pretty sure,” added AnneMunition, a streamer with nearly 650,000 Twitch followers. “I encourage other companies to not be like this one.” — — @AnneMunition
That’s the other issue. Burger King brought in over $5B in revenue in 2018, the company spends millions upon millions of dollars every year in marketing. To send streamers $5 donations, the price of a standard Twitch Prime subscription is peanuts to a company that operates in multiples of millions.
Ogilvy, and their client Burger King, attempted this strategy to connect with the sought-after online demographic. Wendy’s has streamed on Twitch, McDonalds and Jack in the Box sponsor esports events. Burger King wanted to connect with that audience, but didn’t give credit to the actual creators who drive the platform. Twitch is not one all-encompassing platform, it’s a collection of individual communities around games and streamers they follow. Too often, those streamers are underappreciated or under-compensated by brands.
“Content creators should have a choice, that’s what is wrong with this campaign,” said Aladin Ben, the founder and CEO of Gaimz.inc, a program that creates monetization options for streamers. “Having brands utilize built-in Twitch features like donations or gifting subscriptions for ads could be a benefit to the streaming ecosystem, but only if the campaign is agreed to by the content creator.”
Gaimz has a way for brands to utilize the donation section of Twitch. But instead of a bot sending the same ad copy to streamers all over the platform, automatically triggering ad reads, Gaimz allows brands to make suggestions but the streamer has the ability to accept or reject the ad.
“Simply put, monetization for video game streamers needs to evolve,” Ben continued. “Brands like Burger King and plenty others want to be involved with Twitch, but they won’t be successful unless they work with the streamers themselves — not against them.”
“We believe that every gamer deserves better.” The CEO of Gaimz.Inc, Aladin Ben said.
Gaimz is a platform designed for competitive amateur gamers and allows them to monetize their brand, skills and personality. The team is building a social network that is based on monetization through smart integrations and partnerships. The monetization features of the platform are expected to benefit gamers, content creators, tournament organizers, and even game publishers.
They have just released the beta launch — click here to find out more!