X Close

CBC Digi-Hub Blog



Burger Fever – it’s a hipster thing. A behaviour change campaign utilising digital and social media

By Artur Direito, on 12 April 2018

By Dr. Aileen McGloin and Andrew Castles, safefood

In Ireland, like in so many Western countries in recent years, there has been a rise in the cultural phenomenon that is the gourmet burger joint. What was once cheap, portable street food, has become hip, trendy, expensive food.

There is nothing wrong with any of that, per se, but this trend is accompanied by a misperception that the higher quality minced meat typically used is somehow safer than other minced meat. Thus a growing trend of serving beef burgers cooked to preference in high-end burger joints in Ireland.

For beef, bacteria grow on the outside of the meat, so for whole pieces of meat, like steak, simply searing the outside will make it safe to eat. The thing about minced beef, is that the bacteria is mixed throughout. The outside is essentially on the inside and to make it safe, it needs to be cooked right through.

Most people who get sick from food poisoning will recover without any lasting effects. However food poisoning from E.coliin particular carries the risk of more serious long-term effects including kidney failure, brain and nerve damage and, in some cases, even death.

In 2016 a number of high-profile cases of food poisoning led to temporary closures for restaurants in Ireland.  In response, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland issued new advice for caterers (February 2017) on serving burgers that are safe to eat while we at safefood were tasked with changing public knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of those attending gourmet burger places.

Turns out these are most likely to be young, male, aged between 25-49 years and from an ABC1 audience (Mintel, 2016).

To bring the campaign to life, safefood created a suite of creative social assets that aimed to surprise, entertain and engage the target audience and encourage them to learn more about burger safety and rethink their choices.

The behaviour change techniques used in this campaign included information about social and environmental consequences, information about health consequences, feedback on the behaviour, feedback on outcome(s) of the behaviour and prompts and cues. As well as strong visuals, humour played an important role in engaging the audience with evidence that younger people are more likely to engage with health issues and share the message if humour is used (Evers et al., 2013).

Given the audience, the campaign primarily used digital and social media channels with a focus on YouTube and Instagram. As part of the campaign safefood used an Instagram hashtag hijack technique. The aim of this campaign element was to bring the campaign to the attention of the target audience by tapping into the burger photo sharing culture.

A temporary campaign specific Instagram account (@burger_fever) was created. Using a software application the account was able to auto-like and responded with a witty pre- written message to anyone that shared a burger photo using a burger hashtag. The pre-written posts gave warnings around burger safety and used native Instagram language and conversations to grab the attention.

Automated comments

A key element involved working with a popular local comedian, The Viper, as an important social infleuncer of our target audience. The video produced included vox-pops and mock interviews with both a microbioglist and restaurantaur to find out the raw deal behind undercooked burgers.

Posters, located in washrooms acted as cues to change behaciour at point of purchase, and used pithy headlines and engaging visuals based on the iconic neon signage of the American fast food joint.

Video in situ

The campaign received significant exposure; the washroom posters were positioned in 200 restaurants/bars and were also displayed on 40 digital screens.  The Instagram account received a reach of 6,293 and the bot liked 15,849 photos and sent messages to over 100 people.  The comedy video on safefood’s Facebook page was viewed by 85,497, generating 922 likes, 552 comments and 156 shares.  On YouTube it was viewed over 48,000 times. The campaign had a reach of 398,144 on Facebook and 46,553 on Twitter.

There was a corresponding change in knowledge, attitudes and behaviour as a result of the campaign.  Prior to the launch of the campaign 13% believed that it was safe to eat rare burgers, 26% believed it was safe to eat medium-rare burgers, 50.8% believe it was safe to eat medium burgers while 73.5% believed it was safe to eat medium-well burgers.  All of these results significantly decreased post campaign by between 3%-8%.  The number of respondents who suggest they prefer their burger cooked rare or medium when dining out decreased from 51.4% pre campaign to 42.5% post campaign.

So now you know the truth about minced meat, next time you go for a burger how will you order yours?

As the Viper says “Don’t get a raw deal”.


Dr Aileen McGloin

Dr Aileen McGloin

Aileen is Communications Manager, Digital and Health at safefood. Combining a background in food, health and behaviour- change with experience in digital communications, she currently leads safefood’s online communications in both food safety and nutrition. Her key goal is to support consumers to change food related behaviours using digital marketing.

Linkedin.com/in/aileenmcgloin; amcgloin@safefood.eu


Andrew Castles

Andrew Castles

Andrew is the Marketing and communications Executive at safefood. Andrew was the project lead on the Burger Fever campaign and currently leads safefood’s stakeholder engagement, direct marketing and event portfolios. His goal is to create strong partnerships across the island of Ireland to improve consumer health particularly amongst the most vulnerable in society.

Linkedin.com/in/andrewcastles ; acastles@safefood.eu

Leave a Reply