The (Burger) King is dead. Long live the…lettuce!

In Uncategorized on September 15, 2011 at 7:01 pm

A few weeks ago, I was a little sad to read in USA Today that Burger King was ditching, well, the KING!  You know, the big creepy guy with the molded plastic face that kept turning up in odd places.

(Personally, I was always surprised he survived the early televisiospot in which a guy wakes up to find the King in his bed. That’s BEYOND creepy.)

The article points out that everybody is promoting their “fresh” food these day – not only competitive fast-fooders, but even the likes of Target and 7-Eleven, so Burger King finally had to step up the plate (or scale) to keep up.

So instead of watching the most awkward royal since Prince Charles lumbering around annoying people, we get to see those fresh ingredients chopped and diced to pulsating music.  Like, I’m afraid, those boring slow-pour beer spots that brewers throw in every now and then to make their real commercials look a lot more interesting!

This is a tough one for BK, though. Subway has a long head start in this “freshness” business, with those veggies sitting out there in plain site, looking pretty appetizing. And hey – what harm can a little healthy stuff do to a Sub Club anyway? Go ahead, toss it on.

But burgers are a different story. Sure, fresh is better than NOT fresh. But when there’s a burger in that bun, that’s what I’m going to judge you by. By comparison, everything else in that sandwich is small tomatoes. And a BK burger is different than a McDonald’s, is different than a Wendy’s, and…you get the idea. THAT’S what matters.

My favorite quote from the article is from the chief creative officer of McGarry/Bowen – the new agency that was the inevitable result of the new Burger King CEO and  marketing director. He said “We’re re-igniting the latent feeling that people have about Burger King.”  Wow. I’m not sure, but I think that might mean “reminding” them.

I have a nasty feeling, however, that the “latent feeling people have” doesn’t much involve lettuce. It probably is more like, “you know, those Whoppers were pretty good -we ought to do that instead of Mac’s for a change.”  For my creative tastes, the “Whopper Freakout” web stuff done by Crispin Porter + Bogusky was closer to that point, and great fun – made me want a Whopper again.

But that stuff never made it to mainstream TV much, if at all. They left traditional media totally in the hands of that creepy king, and sales down 6% suggest that was a mistake.

Somehow, I’m gonna miss the big fella. Yup, he was creepy, and they didn’t use him very well in their TV spots. But when your name is Burger King, there just has to be some branding and separation value in using a “king” as your symbol. Now,  I certainly don’t want to wake up to find him in my bed. But in all honesty, I’m not sure I’d want to find crisp lettuce or juicy tomatoes there, either.

And that quirky Burger King spokes-lurker definitely isn’t the “Worst King Ever.”  That’s one title a certain other departed king will carry forever (the one title he DID manage to win in Cleveland).  Hey, I’m a  Cavaliers fan.   

Sorry to vent there. I guess all this “king” talk  just re-ignited some latent feelings I had.


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