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Music

Remembering the bizarre moment Slipknot attempted to sue Burger King

The musical world is full of weird and wonderful occurrences. No decade was better suited to the bizarre than the noughties, where arguably pop culture was at its most ridiculous point. One of these absurd instances came in 2005 and brought two of the era’s biggest names into direct conflict.

Yes, that’s right, in 2005, shock-metal icons, Slipknot attempted to sue Burger King. For a bit of context, in 2005, as many fans would attest, Slipknot had reached their creative and commercial zenith with the release of their iconic album, Vol. 3 The Subliminal Verses. Featuring gargantuan tracks such as ‘Duality’ and ‘Before I Forget’, they truly exploded with the release of Vol.3, gaining a level of fame as they’d never known prior to its release. 

In no uncertain terms, Burger King attempted to get in on Slipknot’s success when they launched their Chicken Fries meal. As part of their massive advertising campaign, the fast-food chain devised a fictional band called ‘Coq Roq’, and although lighthearted, the aesthetic of the band clearly took some inspiration from Slipknot’s own distinct aesthetic, featuring one member with a gas mask and another with dreadlocks. Burger King denied the claim and said that the band’s masks were designed to resemble chickens, which would also make sense. 

Given that in 2005 the internet was only in its infancy, and things like Myspace were all the rage, quickly Slipknot fans banded together and started noticing the parallels between ‘Coq Roq’ and the Des Moines band. The group then filed a lawsuit against Burger King for infringing on their ‘trademark’ look. In a report at the time, The Smoking Gun released a copy of the letter Slipknot’s legal representatives sent to Burger King. 

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One part reads: “It is obvious that the television advertising and website are designed to conjure up the image and persona of a live performance of Slipknot. In addition to capturing the flavour and high energy intensity of a Slipknot performance, the members of Coq Roq wear masks that include a gas mask as worn by Slipknot’s Sid Wilson, a kabuki style mask as worn by Slipknot’s Joey Jordison and a mask with dreads as worn by Slipknot’s Corey Taylor.”

Feeling slightly hard done by, the fast-food chain filed a countersuit. An absolute stinger, it claimed that Slipknot were themselves a parody of other masked outfits, who were also spoofed in the campaign. In their counter, they named groups likes KISS, Gwar, Insane Clown Posse and others to make their point. 

It was not the first time that this claim had been, or was to be aimed at Slipknot. Clearly doing what was intended, an impasse was reached, and both sides agreed to drop their cases, and Burger King continued their campaign. One can’t help but thinking, albeit cynically, that this is precisely the kind of publicity that Burger King would have wanted for their new menu entry. As for Slipknot, well, we hope they at least got a free sample of the Chicken Fries. 

Watch one of the ‘Coq Roq’ ads below.