Brand: Burger King
Link: Click Here – The link is to Adland Ad-Rag which requires a small payment to view spots
Target: Big eaters
A lumberjack cuts down a tree in the forest with a chainsaw. As it falls, it reveals the Burger King – a man wearing the costume of a king with an oversized plastic face. The Burger King stares silently at the lumberjack who looks surprised. After a moment’s pause, the Burger King reveals a sandwich behind his back which he hands to the lumberjack. The spot cuts away to a product shot of the “Meatnormous Omelet Sandwich.” Shots of the lumberjack eating the sandwich are interwoven with cut shots of the sandwich being constructed. “Meat on top of Meat on top of Meat” is the billing for the sandwich. The final shot shows the lumberjack and the Burger King log-rolling on a pond together like best friends. “Wake up with the King” is the tagline.
The folks at Burger King have certainly generated lots of buzz for these ads. Not only is the blogsphere buzzing about the King, but ‘King talk’ has invaded everyday conversations. The not-unintended side effect is to remind people that Burger King exists, something that previous ad campaigns did not do effectively. This spot is linked to a strategy of bucking health trends and focusing on bigger, meatier food for Burger King. A small percentage (less than a fifth) of fast food patrons account for a huge portion of fast food sales. These folks are male and grown and eat huge portions at these restaurants. Burger King has made a strategic move to market directly to these people and it has largely paid off. For the first time in decades, Burger King looks to have the upper hand on McDonalds.
The spot itself does not forget to link the Burger King back to the new brand positioning of ‘bigger, meatier food’ and the product shots do a good job of paying off the premise. The style and tonality of these spots is also distinct and would be difficult for a competitor to copy.
Now that BK has introduced a new friend into our life, how do we feel about him? And more importantly; (for this advertising blog ) what does the Burger King do for BK’s brand?
In the blogsphere and at barbeques around the U.S., the debate over the Burger King goes something like this:
“He’s cool. He’s there when you need him,” says the guy.
“He’s creepy. He’s a stalker. He freaks me out,” says the girl.
Of course this conversation does not divide perfectly along gender lines but the split is obvious enough that we must ask whether the effect is intentional? The answer – of course.
BK is playing to the core of their audience with the Burger King – those heavfy-eating males that are the bread and butter of the sandwich business. And they seem to appreciate the Burger King. Therefore this campaign meets the objective of ‘solidifying the base.’
We must ask if this is a good long-term strategy for the brand, however. Many strong brands do not hesitate to alienate or turn away potential consumers outside of their base (think Harley Davidson, for instance). They do this because they know that it will strengthen their appeal to insiders and provide a halo that will attract more business.
But what about a brand where the insiders are regarded as neither aspirational nor experts by the rest of the brand users? In this case, marketing to the base can create a stronger, but smaller brand. If women with children are not attracted to the disturbingly silent Burger King, will they walk away from the restaurant.
These questions are not yet answerable. Nor is the question of why BK walked away from “Have it your way” which was in the recent past after decades of bad-idea BK campaigns had failed to erase it from the popular memory. “Have it your way,” spoke to a fundamental difference in both philosophy and operations between Burger King and McDonald’s. It gave consumers a clear and defined choice which inherently favored Burger King. The spots featuring the personified Burger King do no such thing. Although the jury is very much out on this campaign, our feeling is that Burger King has stepped across an invisible boundary and may feel the pain much later.
Branding Bottom Line:
The Burger King gets our attention, but we’re breaking into a cold sweat.