August 29, 2005
For Burger King and Slipknot, a game of chicken
By Michael Paoletta and Susan Butler
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Burger King's recently launched BK
Chicken Fries marketing plan has run afoul of metal band
Slipknot, which is evidently willing to declare its likeness to
men in chicken suits.
At the center of the controversy is faux metal band Coq
Roq, featured in TV spots for Chicken Fries and on its own Web
site (http://www.coqroq.com), where band merchandise is
available. That Coq Roq resembles Slipknot in the visuals
department has ruffled the latter's feathers.
According to an August 4 cease-and-desist letter from
Slipknot attorney Howard Weitzman to Burger King and its ad
agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the similarities are no
In his letter, Weitzman claims that the ad agency
approached the band's record label, Roadrunner, last September,
wanting Slipknot to appear in a Burger King ad campaign to
"motivate young people to vote." After several weeks of
discussions, the band rejected the request because it did not
want to be branded with burgers.
Burger King and CP+B actually beat Slipknot to the punch.
On August 12, they filed a federal District Court action in the
companies' home court of Florida against the band. It asks the
court to declare that their use of a mock heavy metal band
wearing chicken masks in a TV commercial does not violate any
rights -- including publicity and trademark -- of Slipknot or
its individual band members.
According to Weitzman's letter, Slipknot fans on Internet
message boards have been clucking about what they believe to be
the band's decision to "allow" the campaign, and criticized the
band for permitting use of its image, persona and sound for use
in Burger King commercials.
A Burger King representative says the company does not
discuss pending legal matters. Nor will Burger King disclose
information about traffic at the Coq Roq Web site.
But when asked about the success -- or not -- of the BK
Chicken Fries launch and its Coq Roq campaign, the
representative was happy to crow, calling it one of the most
successful product launches in recent years.