Ross O'Donovan

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Ross O’Donovan’s Twitch stream was targeted by a Burger King campaign

It’s the feud we were not expecting: Twitch Streamers vs Burger King.

And, much like a flame-grilled burger, it’s hotting up.

It’s all to do with an ad campaign the fast food chain has put out that streamers have accused of being “scummy” and exploitative.

They’re being very vocal about it online.

Burger King, on the other hand, is staying silent – and hasn’t responded to our requests for a statement.

The whole thing revolves around a bot on Twitch that reads out messages from fans during a stream.

It’s designed so viewers, in exchange for a small donation, can ask their favourite streamers questions or comment on how they’re playing.

Burger King, though, has been using it to advertise its latest offers.

It means it’s been getting exposure that would have cost thousands of pounds for as little as £2.50.

‘This is not OK’

“When it first happened I thought it was a joke,” Ross O’Donovan tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

He has hundreds of thousands of followers on his Twitch channel RubberNinja.

Ross was live earlier this year when a user called King of Stream donated $5 (£3.80), but – instead of a typical fan message – the bot started reading out Burger King deals.

“We generally follow protocol when it comes to doing advertisements. You have to disclose that it’s an ad to your viewers,” Ross says.

“It costs a lot more than $5 for a company to partner with a streamer, so it’s just very scummy to circumvent that whole thing and do it through a donation.”

Burger King has since released a promotional video, via advertising company Ogilvy, that shows the same thing happening to other streamers whose faces have been blurred and voices altered.

In the video, the company says it turned “donations into ads” by making “streamers and viewers hungry”.

But Ross says the campaign is a slap in the face to streamers, who rely on actual sponsorship deals to make their living.

“We work really hard to try to keep our audiences entertained and to have our streams hijacked like that is just unethical.

“It’s not fair and I hope they use this as a study to show marketing students in the future what is OK and what is not OK, because this definitely wasn’t.”

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Take a quick scroll through Twitter and you can find plenty of other big name streamers who are unhappy.

“A lot of streamers are really upset about this because normally companies go through an ad agency, you talk to them and you make a deal,” Ross adds.

“Then, importantly, you tell your viewers you’re doing an advertisement.

“So for Burger King to essentially do guerrilla warfare puts us in a weird spot because we’re not disclosing to our viewers that it’s an advertisement – because we didn’t know.”

We contacted Burger King, Ogilvy and Twitch for a comment, but none of them got back to us before publication.

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