The King is Dead; Long Live the Clown


creepy-burger-king-kingBurger King has killed off their advertising mascot, if that’s the right word for a plastic-faced man.

During more than 50 years, the king morphed from a sign to an animated character to a creepy part-man-part-super-sized-mask. You can take a look at several commercials on the hubze blog that will make you wonder why they were ever aired.

The BK advertising seems to have been designed to be an edgy thrust aimed at carnivorous younger males. The trouble with edgy advertising is when it doesn’t work, it really bombs.

– BK’s same store sales have been down while McDonalds are up. Of course, advertising is only one factor in the business decline and an easy scapegoat, although this time it seems to properly deserve a lot of the blame.

Historically, BK has had a revolving door of marketers, so I’m not sure who decided to move their advertising account to McGarryBowen. Their first advertisement is food focused and probably aimed at moms. It’s also rather boring and interchangeable with many restaurant chains. I think this is an OK first step assuming they rushed it out primarily to stop using the King.

Regardless, the advertising needs to quickly be improved to differentiate the Burger King product and experience, which I don’t remember happening since they sold flame-broiled and Have It Your Way (was that the 70’s?).

They’re still using this great service promise as the headline for their website even through it still prominently features the now-dead king. Rather than complaining about their lack of coordination and poor planning, however, I believe this is another indication that they moved fast to an intermediate campaign.

I go to Burger King and McDonalds occasionally when I’m looking for fast enjoyable belly fill, and I don’t mean that to be disparaging. The nearest McDonalds is new and very pleasant; the Burger King I visit in a nearby town is much older and not particularly pleasant. I don’t believe that this restaurant can creditably serve the food shown in the new BK food-focused commercial.

I think the Clown is going to continue winning.

About Richard Sellers

Richard is Chairman Emeritus of the Marketing Executives Networking Group, founder of Demand Marketing consulting firm, and former Sr. VP of Marketing for three multi-billion dollar companies: CEC, WLP, and Service Merchandise. His early career was at GE, P&G, Playtex, and Marketing Corporation of America. He’s also a volunteer counselor for SCORE assisting small businesses in upstate New York. You can follow his communications about marketing, job search and careers here and at mengonlineENTREPRENEURS QUESTIONS, and on Twitter at @Sellers_Richard.



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