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Extreme Makeover: Burger King Edition

Filed under Advertising, Branding, Business, Design/Decor, Marketing, Menu, Promotion, Test Market

Say goodbye to the King character.

[June 1 Update: McGarryBowen wins Burger King’s U.S. ad account. Read here.]
The King is dead; long live the new Burger King.

The No. 2 burger chain is changing its menu, its look, its marketing and its attitude, according to a 5/30 article by Elaine Walker in the Miami Herald. The creepy King character is going on an overdue “extended vacation,” dismissed by the chain’s 3G Capital ownership, as it shifts from sophomoric marketing narrowly targeted to teen boys to courting a broader clientele that even includes women. 

On the menu side, Burger King will turn itself into…McDonald’s. The Herald story story says Burger King plans to add a number of new items that mimic Big Mac’s menu offerings. These include an Asian chicken salad with baby edamame, red cabbage and sesame lime vinaigrette; oatmeal with dried fruit and maple sugar, and mango and mixed-berry smoothies. Sound familiar?

Beginning this week, Burger King offers a free 20-oz. soda with purchase of any Whopper.

Joining the signature Whopper will be “a new premium homestyle burger on a brioche bun with thick-cut bacon, romaine lettuce and a new spicy pepper grill sauce,” the Herald reports. And of course there’s chicken: watch for a chicken BLT wrap with bacon and “country Dijon” mustard. Dollar-menu items will be deemphasized.

“As we develop new products we’re focusing on best in class and quality,” Jonathan Muhtar, vice president of global innovation, told the Walker and the Herald. “In the past there were compromises made with our food for ease of operation and to take costs out of the product. Food quality and taste has to come first. Consumers come to Burger King because we’ve traditionally stood out for having great tasting food.’’

Burger King also has stood out for its jarring, dated décor and color palette. The earth tones will be replaced by a new interior décor in red and black. The new exterior design is notable for a black tower replacing the current mansard roof. The phrase “Home of the Whopper” will be featured on exterior signage and canopies will cover drive-thrus, the newspaper reports. 

Burger King is expected to name a new U.S. creative agency to replace former ad agency Crispin, Porter + Bogusky in the next few weeks. AdAge previously reported that the U.S. finalists are Dentsu’s McGarryBowen, Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi, Interpublic Group’s McCann Erickson and WPP Group’s CHI & Partners. New agencies also will be named in the UK, continental Europe and Asia.

Ξ So, while Burger King sets about remaking itself as a McDonald’s clone, what’s Big Mac up to? It’s continuing to globalize its menu. A few examples:
● In most European markets, McDonald’s is selling a trio of beef and chicken McWraps, but only Hungary has a Greek-style Tzaziki McWrap. This has pork, feta cheese, cucumber, lettuce, bell pepper, red onion and tzatziki sauce wrapped in tortilla.

● In the UK, McDonald’s now-annual “Great Tastes of America” menu promotion is ongoing. This week’s special is the Texas Grande: a beef patty topped with pepperoni (Texas?), Mexican salsa, cheese sauce, pepper cheese and lettuce on a cheese-topped bun.

8 Responses to Extreme Makeover: Burger King Edition


    This is what they should have done in 2003. Instead, Texas pacific hijacked the company and embarked on their “QUAD STACKER” and “DOUBLE WHOPPER” stategy, alienating our long time customer base.

    Previously Burger King had a “follow McDonald’s” stratedy. The only bright spot was 1993 through 1999, when Burger King, under Adamson, had its own unique three tier menu. Durng that time period, Burger King kicked McD’s butt. The link with Disney was aawesome, with “Toy Story” and “The Lion King” driving the kids/family segment. Texas Pacific abandoned this segment entirely, as the drop in Kid’s Meals attests.

  2. The hamburger business is a story of self inflicted wounds. In the mid to late 1990s McDonald’s made every mistake possible in menu additions and opening too many new locations cannibalizing existing locations and driving down same store sales. Burger King and Wendy’s benefited from McDonald’s missteps.

    Today McDonald’s is benefiting from changes in ownership and management at the major competitors. Meanwhile, chains that don’t have to worry about the short-term desires of shareholders chug along nicely.

  3. At the same time, does Burger King look to stay up with the young adult male demographic? Just an outsider prediction, but McDonald’s, if they are alienating anyone with their strategy right now, might be the 18-24 male segment – the kind of people Carl’s Jr. has really targeted in the past. I love the variety at Micky D’s as well as the next 22 year old fast foodie, but I have to admit, the shifting strategy to a more “cafe” setting kills some of the “guys place” appeal that comes with flame broiled burgers. At the same time, I don’t want to be killed by a 1000 calorie bomb burger with every variation of “hot” thrown in there…

  4. charlie sheen

    Sounds like the company is being “dotized” with Asian management. Next will be bean curd whoppers, curry fries,and the King will be replaced by the Raj. Have it hagdies way!

  5. admin

    Sorry to deflate your prejudices, but the new management is South American. Not Asian.

  6. Douglas Waltz

    Getting rid of The Burger King has to be the worst idea ever. What they need to do is gear it back towards children instead of the bizarre King we have now. And changing the roof is also a bad idea. Everyone can spot a Burger King just by it’s architecture. It would be like McDonald’s replacing its Golden Arches with a Red Q.

  7. Raiders757

    BK needs to reinvent itself. Their burgers suck, and their fries are pathetic. They have a pretty good chicken sandwich, but it’s not worth the $8 they charge for the combo. The Whopper is a joke of its former self, and their veggie toppings have been crap for well over twenty years. Same with their fries. They haven’t served decent fries in over a decade. Even the new chicken nuggets are a failure. If I ran the show in BK land, I would blow everything up and start all over again. From what I have read on the net in comment sections like this, and hearing feedback from the people around me, BK is considered the worst fast food option by a vast majority. It blows my mind that they’re the No. 2 chain in the business. It must be location, as most of the people I know only eat there when there is no other option.

  8. -i love burger king. Can’t complain. Love the service. The big whooper with Cheese is the best. I visit the burger king in Willow Grove Pa. Nice relaxing place and downhome service and folksy customers. Though I like Mcdonald s Fish sandwich and fries. I would buy a whooper first and oftener since Mcdonald does not have class. Everything is a rush and is lack hosptality Kindness to others goes a long way. And loyality is returned to you. Please stop changing things. It would be very wise if you completely did away with the king. If one is needed than have one who is animated. A cute character with a real adorable personality that children will love not a character who is too comical and silly stupid. Sorry for offending you. Is it possible that you could fix the fries? How about something like chick fa la fries? Just an idea. No offense ok? I am a loyal Burger King customer and always will be. thanks