Thursday, December 18, 2008

Review: Burger King's Whopper Scent

During my first semester teaching at Ohio State, I shared with my students an Advertising Age story about Burger King's franchisees near riot over "the King."

The Oct. 25, 2005, story ran under the headline, "Franchisees turn on Crispin's King."

The problem is that BK is the No. 2 burger chain in the country, distantly trailing No. 1 McDonald's and barely leading No. 3. Wendy's.

Burger King goes well with their target market: young males. And although the King played well with that audience, he was not bringing in new customers.
Burger King is "highly effective with a very narrow target so the strategy is working, but is it the right strategy?" said one fast-food industry executive. "From a traffic perspective ... the answer is no. They're selling higher-priced products to fewer people, and that's where McDonald's understands that it's a volume-driven business."
This tension continued for more than two months:
Until now, the two sides would clash, but generally come to some form of compromise. But franchisees have recently balked at corporate plans with increasing frequency, with some criticizing the fast-feeder's focus on young males at the expense of women and families, a strategy forged in conjunction with its agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami. (Advertising Age, January 9, 2006, Peace breaks out: BK quells franchisee feud; Franchisee board renews relations after fights over chain's marketing tack).
Somehow these King ads managed to persist and even elicit imitations:
We can only imagine what the Burger King suits -- to say nothing of the entire creative department at BK's ad agency of record, Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami -- must be thinking every time they see one of a new collection of McDonald's spots featuring various kids and a plastic statue of the iconic Ronald McDonald seated on a bench. (Chicago Sun-Times, March 1, 2006, McDonald's serves BK leftovers)
Now more than three years later, the King persists. Clearly Burger King has access to proprietary data that I do not share. However, almost universally my discussions confirm the original franchisee concern: the ads play well to the target market are irritate almost everyone else.

Let's put it this way, since that original ad appeared, I have not once heard my wife suggest going to Burger King for a salad.

Fast forward to this week, and I see a Tweet by a former Tech Student @humbearto that read:
Hilarious: Click for the king. Oh Burger King, when will you stop outdoing yourself?

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Anonymous Neuromarketing said...

The objective has to be to get some viral buzz, but I don't see that it accomplishes anything really positive from a brand perception standpoint. OK, maybe that BK has a sense of humor... but will that bring people to the restaurants?


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