Page 1

Burger King, A Brand in Crisis · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 1 Focus on a Young Demographic : Attempting to Connect · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 2 Focus on a Young Demographic : Reliance on Movie Tie-Ins · · · · · · · · · · · · · 3 Failing Strategies : Short Term over Long Term · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 4 Failing Strategies : Questionable Direct Marketing · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 5 Failing Strategies : Copycat Products · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 6 Failing Strategies : Public Missteps · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 7 SWOT Analysis · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 8 Competitive Landscape : IN-N-OUT Burger · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 9 Competitive Landscape : McDonalds · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 10 Competitive Landscape : Wendy’s · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 11 Competitive Landscape : Red Robin · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · 12

Burger King As a global brand, Burger King has multiple touchpoints. Television, billboards, internet and direct mail. In fact, Burger King has the highest reliance of direct mail coupons out of all the major fast food restaurants. Constant marketing for over thirty years means that most people’s brand awareness of Burger King has been is as long as they can remember. For the most part, Burger King’s marketing material is attractive, but the brand’s problems are deeper than just having attractive execution of ideas. Burger King is not connecting with its target demographic while alienating the broader audience. The chain is failing to build long-term loyalty with consumers because the marketing and the menu fail to present a clear identity.


Focus on a Young Demographic Attemping to Connect The target market for Burger King is in transition right now. The brand has traditionally sought younger men 18-35 as its core audience, but there has been a very recent push to move towards capturing a more diverse group of customers. Burger King’s target of young males was evident with the ironic spokesperson in the form of the King, gimmicky products like chicken fries, failed marketing strategies such as burgers for breakfast and some extreme food products, including the BK 7, with seven patties to coincide with the release of Windows 7.


Focus on a Young Demographic Reliance on Movie Tie-Ins Burger Kings movie tie-ins and promotions also seem to indicate a move towards younger people, males specifically. There were recent tie-ins to the popular Twilight series and toy promotions in kid’s meals with Star Trek and Marvel’s comic franchises. Of course with science fiction and comic book tie ins, the appeal is not limited to the twelve and under set, but also to young men that have a very strong connection to those brand and will buy a kid’s meal to collect toys associated with those brands.


Failing Strategies Short Term Over Long Term However these strategies to capture the young male consumer not only failed to connect with its target audience, it alienated a lot of the broader audience. Extreme burgers and chicken fries might get the attention of young men who like extreme at the expense of healthy, but there was little attempt to connect with the larger audience that preferred healthier options and were not patronizing fast food restaurants as much as they had in the in past. Aligning themselves with popular movie franchises with a strong loyalty base might give a slight uptick in sales but is more a function of people associations with that movie brand, but does little to add long-term loyalty to the restaurants brand.


Failing Strategies Questionable Direct Marketing Burger King’s reliance on coupons, especially buy-one get-one coupons is problematic in three ways. It doesn’t increase the consumer’s long-term loyalty to Burger King and only works as a short term boost, though even its short term effectiveness is questionable, since coupon clipping requires foresight into future purchasing and I would argue that for most of its customers, eating at Burger King is a choice based on either impulse or convenience, neither of which are affected by coupons. The young males that they seek to win as customers are not coupon clippers and don’t plan ahead and keep coupons for fast food in their car. Furthermore, these buy-one get-one coupons actually undermine the brand because the customer feels that the Whopper is now twice as expensive as it should be, which wouldn’t enter the mind of a person on the road looking for a Big Mac, as the price of a Big Mac is set.


Failing Strategies Copycat Products Though launching multiple products recently, there hasn’t been an iconic product for Burger King since the Whopper in 1957. Without a clear identity, much of what Burger King did was to follow the what other companies have done and launch products that are the brand’s version of another restaurant’s products. The BK King is the restaurant’s version of McDonald’s Big Mac, the Burger King Buck Double was developed to compete with McDonald’s value menu and higherend chibatta bread sandwiches mimicked Jack in the Box’s own chibatta bread sandwiches.


Failing Strategies Public Missteps Much of it’s online coverage has been bad, focusing on the missteps of the company. The recently dropped Burger King character didn’t connect to the audience and were off putting to everyone else. A bizarre fiberglass king was featured in ads that were rightly criticized for being inappropriately sexualized and creepy. The extreme sandwiches get online buzz, but most of it centered around the massive caloric count. Chicken fries were launched around the time that pink slime came into public consciousness, spread virally by social media, underscoring how unnatural the process of making them really was. Most famously, there was a commercial that featured Mary J. Blige that was pulled for perceived racist overtones. Blige later on felt used by the company and spoke out against Burger King and the handling of her commercial. Having a well-known and beloved celebrity lash out against a company is the worst possible outcome of a using a spokesperson.




- Flamebroiling is a unique association to Burger King brand that no other fast food chain can claim.

- Unclear identity for the brand.

- Long-term brand recognition, with color and logo associations as well as a rich history of jingles and ad campaigns that can be drawn from to create nostalgia.

- Confusing array of menu items with no central theme or idea - No spokesperson for the chain. - Inability ot establish passionate, long-term brand loyalty.



- Movement towards grilling and against frying, the cooking method of other fast food chains.

- Increasingly challenging economic climate for fast food restaurants, with a shift towards casual dining restaurants.

- A move from the ironic and extreme foods to ` authenticity and real foods.

- Shifting tastes across the board from a need for healthier options to a broader acceptance of Latino tastes and values.


Competitive Landscape IN-N-OUT BURGER IN-N-OUT Burger, unlike Burger King, has an almost fanatical fan base. This is due partly because it’s based primarily on the West Coast. This gives it’s customers a membership into an exclusive club as they brag to their friends about their experience, giving the brand an extra boost of very strong word of mouth. In addition, there are non-advertised ways of ordering non-menu items, which adds to the exclusivity of the experience. But, there is more to the success of this brand than just the exclusivity. The menu is a very simple. Burgers with or without cheese, fries, soft drinks and shakes. This pared down menu makes ordering and delivery of food very fast. With IN-N-OUT, there is a perception that there is focus on the food. They claim to use only “natural” and “fresh ingredients.” Though the meaning of those two things aren’t clear, the food lacks the heavy, greasy taste that almost all other hamburger chains have. Unwilling to compromise on the quality of food, they have approached the growth of their company very deliberately and limited what they serve on the menu. Even the off-menu items are just slightly different combinations of what they traditionally serve. The visual elements of the restaurant are almost under-designed. The retro yellow arrow and small palm trees reflect the chain’s origin in Southern California in the 1950s, but a very spare. The chain’s under-designed aesthetic serves to underscore the company’s focus on food, leaving over-designed material and overly-conceptual, gimmicky menu items to the competition. In these ways, it is almost the antiBurger King.


Competitive Landscape McDonald’s When talking about fast food restaurants, McDonalds is number one in number, scale, income and influence. What makes McDonalds so insidious is the saturation of its brand. A saturation that not only goes wide, but deep. The company’s logo, the golden arches, have move beyond successful branding and into the area reserved only for religious and national icons. This branding starts from the beginning of the consumer’s consciousness, imprinting on the mind as soon as a child has contact with the society’s cultural output. There are no children begging and crying to take them to Burger King, while almost all children beg and cry to be taken to McDonalds. Along with the golden arches, the company’s food is also iconic. While the Whopper is Burger King’s iconic sandwich, McDonald’s has multiple menu items so iconic that they are identifiable by sight. Very few would know Burger King’s version of the fish sandwich, but everyone in the United States knows the Filet-O-Fish. We know McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets and Happy Meals to the point where they have become the terms for all fried chicken bits or the children’s meal. And while specialty menu items are added and dropped according the taste’s of the day, the core of the menu remains unchanged. McDonald’s is one of the rare cases where movie tie-ins actually transfer value from the licensee to the promotion and both benefit, adding clout to unknown movies like Shrek or reintroduce older brands like the Transformers to young consumers.


Competitive Landscape Wendy’s Last year Wendy’s displaced Burger King to be second in sales volume in the United States. This success happened despite the fact that in many ways Wendy’s, like Burger King, has struggled to find it’s brand. It’s iconic spokesperson, Dave Thomas passed away in 2002 and the company has been looking to reinvent the brand, moving from an animated Wendy spokesperson to Dave Thomas’ daughter to the current cute and perky redhead. The logo was most recently updated in earlier in 2013. The new logo very subtly continues the Victorian theme of the restaurant in the 1980, when the restaurant used typefaces and imagery of the late 1800s. The menu is consistant with singles, doubles and triples based on the same ingredients with some unique items specific to Wendy’s such as chili and Frosties. in addition to their successful value menu. The recent updated breakfast items were not as successful and were discontinued in 2013.


Competitive Landscape Red Robin Taking market share from fast food restaurants is the casual dining restaurants that offer to-go ordering, including TGIFriday’s and Red Robin. Red Robin offers “gourmet” burgers at a higher price as well as a more comfortable environment to eat. The menu is fairly complex and better suited to a sit down restaurant than a drive thru.


Burger King  

For an assignment in corporate marketing.

Burger King  

For an assignment in corporate marketing.