The Often-Overlooked ‘Hamburger Button’ on Websites Is Now Worth a Free Whopper

Burger King Chile trades screenshots for promo codes in nerdy new campaign

Chileans can now trade screenshots of the ubiquitous 'hamburger button' for a Whopper. - Credit by Burger King Chile
Headshot of T.L. Stanley

A designer named Norm Cox, working for Xerox in the 1980s, created the small-but-mighty, three-line widget that would become ubiquitous on computer interfaces and mobile devices.

He called it a “road sign,” an “air vent” and a “container for contextual menu choices.” He never compared it to lunch.

But in the years since, those parallel, horizontal black lines found in the top corner of the screen have been dubbed “the hamburger button.”

Nerd lesson of the day complete.

Burger King Chile, aiming at geeks and beyond, has latched onto this icon as the centerpiece of its new promotion. Take a snapshot of the “hamburger” on your screen, DM it to the brand’s Instagram and get a code for a free Whopper (plus free delivery).

The program, for consumers in Chile only, “is based on the insight that maybe this is the only hamburger we all have seen since the quarantine started in this country,” according to ad agency Wolf BCPP in Santiago.

Here are a few stats the agency shared to back up that claim: fast food sales have dropped nearly 11% since the pandemic-related lockdown, per the Chilean Chamber of Commerce, and internet traffic leaped by 40%, per Chilean telecom regulator Subtel.

Hence, all that time in cyberspace must be making everyone hungry. As a result, BK is inviting fans to “exchange that burger icon for a real flame-grilled Whopper in order to stop seeing burgers everywhere and start enjoying them their way.”

Works for us.

It’s the latest trendy tech-centric campaign from the brand, which in the U.S. has offered free or discounted Whoppers for using Burger King billboards as background on Zoom, for snagging a moving QR code and for dancing for your dinner on TikTok. And for anyone driving a Tesla, the chain doled out free sandwiches when the luxury car stopped at the BK marquee. (Whether that’s an automotive AI glitch or a machine-driver mind meld is anyone’s guess).

Update: A reader pointed out that this program has some striking similarities to a McDonald’s partnership in 2018 with Reddit to give away burgers and celebrate Cox’s birthday with an Ask Me Anything session. Judge for yourself.

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@TLStanleyLA T.L. Stanley is a senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, meat alternatives, pop culture, challenger brands and creativity.