Burger King: Promoting a Food Fight ALL ABOUT THE CASE CHALLENGING CONVENTIONAL WISDOM Events: 2003 and 2004 2003 – Outcome of BK’s performance and its competitors – it turned out that: – MC Do (No. 1), reported 9% sales jump to a total of $22. 1 billion – BK (No. 2), sales slipped about 5% to $7. 9 billion – Wendy (No. 3), had spiked 11% to $7. 4 billion, putting it in a position to overtake BK 2004 – Burger King CEO Grad Blum’s move – reviewed the company’s 2003 outcomes – fired the firm’s advertising agency Young & Rubicam (Y&R) award the advertising of BK Company to Crispin Porter + Bogusky (Crispin) The Advertising Agencies: Young & Rubicam (Y&R) versus Crispin Porter + Bogusky (Crispin): Y&R – had gotten the $350 million BK account only 10 months earlier – to help revive BK’s sales, it had developed a campaign with the theme “THE FIRE’S READY” which focused on BK’s flame-broiled cooking method versus frying – observers found the message to be FLAT and UNINSPIRING and the declining sales sealed Y&R’s fate Crispin creative shop that was known for its offbeat, unorthodox, and even irreverent promotions – found an inexpensive ways to gain attention, veering away from the traditional mass media – had produced award-winning, low-budget campaigns – out-of-the-box, results-oriented agency – developed some loose rules: – zero in on the product – kick the TV commercial habit – find the sweet spot (the overlap between product characteristics and customer needs) – surprise = buzz = exposure – don’t be timid – think of advertising as a product rather that a service
HIT AFTER HIT FOR THE KING Crispin’s Promotion Strategy for BK Company: 1. recommended going back to the firm’s “HAVE IT YOUR WAY” tagline, developed by BK’s second advertising agency, BBDO, way back in 1974 2. Crispin kicked off the new campaign with TV commercials – the Office ads was launch to reinforce the message that each customer could have a custom-made burger – no matter how unusual it might be – Crispin planned an entire package of promotions around the new-old theme, including everything from in-store signage to messages on cups 3. microsite www. subsevientchicken. com was launched – the site featured a man dressed in a chicken suit who would respond by performing any commands that visitors typed in to a text box – the only indication that the site was sponsored by BK was a small icon marked “BK Tendercrisp” – it told only 20 people – all of those were friends of people who worked at the agency – within the 1st 10 days, 20 million people visited the site, with the average visitor spending more than seven minutes http://www. bk. com/en/us/campaigns/subservient-chicken. html 4.
Crispin created a campaign to launch a new BK product, CHICKEN FRIES – promotion was based on a faux heavy metal band called COQ ROQ (the lead singer’s name was Fowl Mouth) – the whole idea was to create a charade of a real band, complete with songs, videos, cell phone ring tones, and promotional merchandise – the main target market of BK in this campaign are the “YOUNG MEN” – whatever those young men men thought of Coq Roq, it led them to buy more than 100 million orders of chicken fries in the first four weeks of the new product launch Despite the success of these campaigns in producing lots of Web site hits, many analysts wondered if they would turn around BK’s sliding market share. ? There was also speculation as to whether or not Crispin could continue to produce ideas that would keep BK strong in the fast food fight. A VIRAL TURNAROUND – at first, franchisees hated the viral Web campaigns, as they did an earlier Crispin campaign featuring an EERIE BOBBLEHEAD-LOOKING KING WITH A GANGANTUAN CERAMIC HEAD – at BK’s 2006 annual franchisee convention, the feeling in the air was “LONG LIVE THE KING” Crispin launched a new ad entitled “MANTHEM” – a parody of performer Helen Reddy’s song “I AM WOMAN” – it embrace the young male, fast-food, super fan – Manthem’s lyrics spurned “chick food”and gleefully exalted the meat, cheese, and more meat and cheese combos that turn “innies into outies,”all the while showing guys burning their briefs and pushing a minivan off the bridge – BK’s restaurant operators embraced the kind of uncomfortably edgy advertising that they rejected not so long before – Why this sudden change of heart? Maybe because of: 1. BK was on the verge of a public offering. 2. Sales and profits go a long way in healing wounds. – franchisees are less likely to question the irreverent Crispin promotional tactics, whether they liked them or not NO END IN SIGHT – creative ads have continued to flow, including the humorous series to promote WESTERN WHOPPER – spots was based on the tagline “BRING OUT YOUR INNER COWBOY” – it featured people from all walks of life developing huge handle bar mustaches after eating Burger King fare ads were accompanied by a link to www. petmoustache. com, where people could register, upload a photo, and design a custom mustache that would then take on a life of its own and it also sends you e-mail saying “HEY, I MISS YOU AND WHY HAVEN’T YOU WAXED ME? If you neglect it, it grows willy-nilly and wild. – for the 50th anniversary of the Whopper, Crispin created the WHOPPER FREAK- OUT campaign – a social experiment eight-minute film taken from the perspective of hidden cameras in a real BK restaurant – the customers were told that the Whopper had been discontinued and after it, they twitch, roll their heads, demand to speak to the manager, and even yell – Crispin plugged the film’s Web site with 30 second shot ads – the microsite received more then 1 million visits at an average logged of 8:33 and most of the visitors watched it for several times ttp://www. youtube. com/watch? v=epsgsfuIN4Y – the campaign won 2008 Creativity magazine award – IAG research found recall of the campaign to be the highest of any it had seen on its six year history – BK is in its 4th consecutive year of same store sales growth – BK is currently delivering a solid thrashing to McDonald’s and Wendy’s, who are blaming the recession, housing crisis and fuel prices for sluggish growth – in 2007, BK systemwide revenue reached $13. billion, up nearly 60% since Crispin assumed the account – BK is showing healthy profits, rising stock prices, and strong international growth – many analysts are giving Crispin’s promotional efforts the bulk of the credit for Burger King’s success – Crispin is now into its 5th year as BK’s promotional agency – as long as Crispin continues to hit home runs with its creative promotion, its franchisees, shareholders, and customers alike will continue to shout, “LONG LIVE THE KING”