After Justice Holdings acquired Burger King this month, it announced a major rebranding and image change, updating its menus and adding to its management ranks.
The new branding is supposed to be a fresh start. But just as things were looking up, a spot featuring Mary J. Blige outraged consumers with its racial stereotypes.
Most brands can move past controversies like this with a heartfelt apology and a donation to charity. For Burger King, however, this is just the latest is a string of marketing blunders it’s committed over the past four years. Coupled with the recession and the growing success of McDonald’s and Wendy’s, Burger King couldn’t be in more trouble.
2003: Burger King gets new management and reactivates “The King.”
Things had been bad at Burger King for a long time: through the late 1990’s, revenues were declining, market share was down, and the company was tied with Wendy’s for the No. 2 fast-feeder spot. So when then-owner Diageo sold Burger King in 2002 to TPG Capital for $1.5 billion, the company looked at the deal as a clean slate.
In 2003, Burger King’s then-chief marketer Russ Klein hired Crispin Porter + Bogusky as the chain’s ad agency. CP+B, under charismatic chief creative Alex Bogusky, was the hottest, hippest ad agency in the U.S. The stage was set for a comeback.
One of CP+B’s first major decisions to was to resurrect “The King,” a brand icon the company had ditched in the 1980s.
The decision would prove fateful.
2008: Burger King started selling absurdly expensive burgers.
In the U.K., a Burger King started selling a gourmet burger for $190.
“The idea is to change perceptions by pushing the envelope to raise awareness of our ambitions,” Mark Dowding, Burger King’s head of product and innovation for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told Ad Age. “We have emphasized the quality to create noise and interest in the market.”
The recession was in full swing and the PR stunt made BK look out of touch.
The brand hit its peak between 2004 and 2007 with campaigns like “Subservient Chicken” and “Whopper Freakout”
CP+B revived the brand by bringing back the company’s mascot, “The King,” and reverting to the tried-and-true slogan “Have it your way.”
As an extension of that slogan, the agency created “Subservient Chicken,” a website where consumers could type commands and watch a giant chicken act them out. The website had 20 million hits in the first week.
The “Whopper Freakout” campaign saw Burger King employees telling customers the famous sandwich had been discontinued and recording their reactions. The campaign resulted in double-digit increases in quarterly sales that year.
- You’ll Have To Go To This Lucky State To Try Burger King’s Ridiculous New Bacon Ice-Cream Sunday
- FAIL: Unilever’s New Tagline In Germany Is ‘F— The Diet’
- RANDOM: Watch Charlie Sheen Use The F-Word In A Dutch Beer Ad
The investment makes sense, as Parker has been focused on shaking up the music industry.
While Parker disrupted the music industry in the late 1990’s when he created Napster, he may soon do the same with his latest involvement in Spotify. We reported earlier that Parker said Spotify will finish what Napster started — deliver instant gratification to music fans.
The Los Angeles-based startup StageIt can deliver a different type of gratification. The platform lets artists set up digital concerts and gives them a way to make money without ever having to leave their house.
Two years ago, StageIt founder Evan Lowenstein founded the company based on the idea people that would pay for a unique experience.
Not long ago, Lowenstein came into play for me to demo the service: As a singer himself, he played “Crazy for This Girl” to show how fans purchase tickets to watch him live and use a chat feature to talk to him during the performance.
“You can’t pirate intimacy and you can’t pirate an experience,” Lowenstein said.
- Steve Case’s New Whopper Of A Fund Won’t Be Touching Silicon Valley Startups
- Google: Whatever Numbers You’ve Heard About Google+, They’re Way Low
- Dwolla, The Tiny Iowa Company That’s Trying To Kill Credit Cards, Makes All Transactions Under $10 Free
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
Collaborators – Digital Profs
- Try On New Glasses in Warby Parker's Virtual Booth
- Netflix vs Blockbuster - Perfect example of an industry replaced by a more efficient version of itself
- The JKWeddingDance video was real; the viral effect was MANUFACTURED - Post 1 of 2
- Marketing Costs Normalized to CPM Basis for Comparison
- Coke vs Pepsi vs Dr Pepper
- Facebook advertising metrics and benchmarks
- Samsung 52 inch HDTV $9.99 at BestBuy - purchase receipt below (6:21a eastern time August 12, 2009)
- The Grand Unified Theory of Marketing(tm) - Digital String Theory
- Did you Google Bing too?
- Brand Advertisers: Escaping an Ecosystem of Digital Advertising Fraud
- #SESNY: Toward a Performance Mindset for All Advertising
- Tips for Marketers Selecting a Digital Agency
- Context Is Not King or Queen; It's Just Necessary
- 2013 New Year's Digital Marketing Resolutions
- The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Online Campaign Ratings and eGRPs
- Why You Should Banish the Net Promoter Score Immediately
- Digital Strategy To-MAY-to vs. To-MAH-to
- The Agency-Client Relationship is Forever Changed
- Targeting vs. Privacy - Who Will Win?
- August 2015 (6)
- July 2015 (2)
- June 2015 (5)
- May 2015 (4)
- April 2015 (32)
- March 2015 (57)
- February 2015 (79)
- January 2015 (86)
- December 2014 (69)
- November 2014 (98)
- October 2014 (150)
- September 2014 (109)
- August 2014 (44)
- July 2014 (92)
- June 2014 (118)
- May 2014 (173)
- April 2014 (130)
- March 2014 (247)
- February 2014 (167)
- January 2014 (222)
- December 2013 (167)
- November 2013 (111)
- October 2013 (116)
- September 2013 (214)
- August 2013 (210)
- July 2013 (200)
- June 2013 (87)
- May 2013 (87)
- April 2013 (70)
- March 2013 (114)
- February 2013 (89)
- January 2013 (136)
- December 2012 (96)
- November 2012 (130)
- October 2012 (147)
- September 2012 (93)
- August 2012 (93)
- July 2012 (112)
- June 2012 (71)
- May 2012 (82)
- April 2012 (80)
- March 2012 (122)
- February 2012 (114)
- January 2012 (129)
- December 2011 (60)
- November 2011 (54)
- October 2011 (29)
- September 2011 (17)
- August 2011 (30)
- July 2011 (18)
- June 2011 (19)
- May 2011 (23)
- April 2011 (23)
- March 2011 (52)
- February 2011 (69)
- January 2011 (108)
- December 2010 (82)
- November 2010 (67)
- October 2010 (68)
- September 2010 (44)
- August 2010 (101)
- July 2010 (61)
- June 2010 (28)
- May 2010 (28)
- April 2010 (26)
- March 2010 (33)
- February 2010 (21)
- January 2010 (13)
- December 2009 (4)
- November 2009 (2)
- October 2009 (14)
- September 2009 (6)
- August 2009 (19)
- July 2009 (34)
- June 2009 (11)
- May 2009 (4)
- April 2009 (6)
- March 2009 (13)
- February 2009 (32)
- January 2009 (25)
- December 2008 (1)
- October 2008 (1)
- June 2008 (1)
- November 2007 (1)