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."
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.
Top 25 Mascots of All Time
Burger King Drops Its King Campaign for Fresher Approach
There have been thousands of mascots that have come and gone through the years, but only a handful are truly memorable and make you think instantly about a company or product.
Click through our gallery as we count down the most beloved mascots of all time and see if you agree with our list.
The Cavemen debuted in 2004 with the "So easy a caveman could do it" ad campaign. In addition to the 20 or so commercials, the Cavemen were so popular that ABC developed a comedy around them. The show was short-lived. It was canceled after just a handful of episodes.
The beloved Gecko debuted in 2000 with Kelsey Grammar voicing the Gecko in the original commercial. The Gecko has been a wildly popular mascot for the insurance company for nearly a decade.
Debuting in 1997, the popular Chihuahua with the catch phrase "ˇYo quiero Taco Bell!" ("I want Taco Bell!") became an international sensation that sparked toy figures and helped propel Taco Bell sales. The company dropped Gidget in 2000 after Latino groups accused the dog of portraying a stereotype. Gidget died in July, 2009.
This lovable mascot debuted in a Super Bowl ad in the late 1980's and became a marketing sensation overnight. The dog appeared everywhere until 1992 when Mothers Against Drunk Drivers alleged that Anheuser-Busch used the dog's image to market beer to young children. Though never proven, the company decided to bid farewell to Spuds.
Many cannot think of bananas without thinking of Miss Chiquita. This mascot has been branded upon bananas since 1944, but has varied in appearance. She originally looked like a banana, but was recreated in 1987 to look like a woman.
Since 1969, Morris the Cat has been the mascot for 9 Lives cat food. He was voiced by John Irwin and was known as "the world's most finicky cat" -- refusing to eat anything other than 9 Lives cat food. Morris was so popular that he even appeared in several movies, and has three books to his name.
In 1959, Joe Harris created the Trix rabbit for General Mills. The mascot was accepted right away and sales for Trix cereal started to rise instantly. His catch phrase, "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids," made him impossible to forget and helped the rabbit retain his position as mascot for all-things Trix.
Everyone has seen the commercials that have made the Aflac Duck famous. In 1999, The duck concept was created by the Kaplan Thaler Group advertising agency after one of art directors realized that Aflac sounded similar to a duck quacking. Whether you're in the United States or Japan, the Aflac duck, which is voiced by Gilbert Gottfried, is infamous.
Voiced by Dick Beals, Speedy made his debut in 1951 after being created by the Wade Ad Agency. Originally, his name was Sparky, but his name was changed to coincide with the theme of Alka-Seltzer offering "speedy relief". The original model was sculpted by Duke Russell and was only 6 inches tall.
Perhaps one of the most well-known icons for the conservation of the environment, Woodsy the Owl became property of the United States after the Woodsy Owl Act was passed in 1974. With his catch phrases, "give a hoot, don't pollute," as well as "Lend a hand. Care for the land," Woodsy is a very memorable mascot. He belongs to the USDA Forest Service and is used to collect royalties that help promote the message of conservation.
The trio Snap, Crackle, and Pop were created in the 1930's. At first, it was just Snap on the box and remained that way for years. After 1936, however, the trio made their debut on boxes of Rice Krispies cereal. Originally, they were brownies with large noses, ears, and gigantic hats. This was changed in 1949 when they received a drastic makeover, evolving into human-like characters, very similar to what they look like today.
In 1975, the "Fruit of the Loom Guys" campaign was born. The commercial featured three men wearing costumes -- an apple, autumn leaf, and red & green grapes -- all of which represent the brand's trademark. The campaign was so successful that the brand recognition was increased to 98%. Even today, though slightly changed and increased by number, these mascots are seen on TV regularly.
Originally, the Camel brand cigarettes were associated with older smokers. To help remedy this problem, Mike Salisbury of the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco marketing team created Joe Camel. Joe made his debut in 1987 as an attempt to attract younger smokers.
The lovable mascot known as Toucan Sam made his debut in 1963 on the box of Froot Loops cereal. With his snappy catch phrase, "follow my nose, it always knows," he became an instant success. Toucan Sam has remained almost completely unaltered since his debut 46 years ago.
In 1961, Charlie the Tuna was created to represent StarKist. In his commercials, Charlie can be seen wanting to become a StarKist Tuna. StarKist's catchy response? "Sorry Charlie. StarKist doesn't want a tuna with good taste. StarKist wants a tuna that tastes good."
Geoffrey the giraffe was created in February 1960 when Toys“R”Us was known as Children’s Bargain Town. The executives of the company decided that a large and friendly animal would be the perfect mascot to represent their stores. Geoffrey did not have a name at this point so eventually a contest was made to see who could come up with the best name -- and so Geoffrey earned his name. As for his catch phrase, “I Don’t Want to Grow Up, I’m a Toys"R"Us Kid,' it's still as popular as ever.
The Energizer Bunny is identified as the "cool bunny wearing sun glasses and beating a drum." He was created in 1989 for the Energizer battery brand and runs off of Energizer Batteries, which "keeps (him) going and going, and going."
The Green Giant was created in 1925 after the introduction of unusually large peas in the company's product line. His companion, Sprout, didn't make his first appearance until 1973, where he was depicted as an apprentice who helps the Green Giant take care of the vegetables.
Mr.Clean, also known as Veritably Clean, made his debut in 1958. He was drawn by Ernie Allen of the Tatham-Laird & Kudner advertising agency and at first was going to be shown as a United States Navy sailor, but the idea was changed. Though his motto has varied throughout the years, he is still as tough on grime and dirt as ever and can be seen on TV often.
Leo Burnett created Ernie Keebler, as well as the other elves, in 1969. The Keebler elves are seen commonly in commercials baking snacks with their magic oven, which resides in a hollow tree located in a fictional place named Sylvan Glen. Their cartoony-look and happy attitude help make these elves all the more memorable.
An agency called Leo Burnett created the Pillsbury Doughboy who made his debut in 1965. An animated version was later created by Pacific Data Images for commercials. Though known as the Pillsbury Doughboy today, he was previously called Poppin' Fresh. His catchy giggle made him an instant star.
The Michelin Man was created in 1898 by the Michelin brothers and a poster artist named Marius Rossillon. Throughout the years, he has received alterations to his look as to make sure he is kept up-to-date with the current time period.
The creation of Mr.Peanut can be solely credited to a 14-year-old Virginian schoolboy back in 1916. Planters had offered contestants a prize for anyone who could create a suitable trademark for Planters. The result? A peanut with arms and legs, who later received a top hat, monocle, and cane.
Perhaps best known for his catch phrase "they're gr-r-reat!" this mascot made his debut in 1952 on a box of Sugar Frosted Flakes of Corn cereal. Originally, he shared the spotlight with another mascot named Katy the Kangaroo, but Tony proved to be far more popular so Katy was retired. He is loved by people of all ages, but children like him especially.
It was very hard to decide between the two most popular mascots of all time so we decided to put them as a tie for first place.
Mickey Mouse debuted over 80 years ago in 1928 when he debuted in the cartoon Steamboat Willie. The rest has been history. The rodent conveys Disney like nothing else and is the most recognizable mascot in the world.
Ronald McDonald appeared in his first commercial in 1966 and was an instant hit as he appeared on his "flying hamburger" in spots on CBS & NBC along with his appearance in Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. This followed his debut in 1963 with personality Willard Scott portraying the clown. Nine actors have done commercials for the company over the past 46 years.