Burger King Drops Its King Campaign for Fresher Approach


It's no longer good to be the King. In a bid to stay within striking distance of rival McDonald's (MCD), Burger King (BKC) has given its plastic King ad mascot the royal flush. Going forward, the nation's No. 2 fast food chain is featuring commercials that highlight fresh ingredients to signify a turn toward the healthy and wholesome, reports say. That wouldn't have been easy with a plastic monarch whose petrified smile stopped him from eating anything Burger King was advertising.

BK's relatively new ownership, 3G Capital, and brand-new ad agency, McGarry Bowen, are aiming to whet subjects' appetites instead of tickling their funny bone, as the King did. The first commercial, which will begin airing this weekend, will feature the new, limited-time California Whopper with guacamole, Swiss cheese and bacon. The spot plays like a cooking-show montage as the burger's fixin's are washed, sliced and diced to a "pulsating" soundtrack, according to Forbes.

"People want a reason to go back to Burger King," Alex Macedo, BK's senior vice president of marketing, told USA Today. "There are no plans to bring the King back anytime soon."

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The King's recent legacy is spotty. USA Today cited figures from market researcher Techmonic that showed BK's same-store sales dipped 6% in the first quarter, while McDonald's rose nearly 3%. When 3G Capital bought Burger King in 2010, it faced $3 billion in needed renovations for 7,200 stores, according to reports. And then there was the problem of marketing campaigns that emphasized low prices at a time when quality became the buzz theme, Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff said in USA Today. BK trails even KFC in perceived quality, he explained.

Ron Paul of Technomic said the King was dethroned by "the Whole Foods" effect -- a chain reaction of fast food joints presenting a fresher image.

The King is dead but will he be forgotten? Will critics and consumers look back fondly at his reign, as they did for BK's "Have It Your Way" era? Or is he headed for the tomb of forgotten BK campaigns? If it's the latter, he could find himself in the "Where's Herb?" category.