Burger King, Edelman Set to Part Ways

Fast Feeder's PR Shop Declines to Defend Business After RFP Is Issued to Shops

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Burger King and its PR agency, Edelman, are set to part ways after the chain issued a request for proposals to public relations agencies of various sizes about two weeks ago.

Edelman, which has worked with the company since 2005, said it was invited to defend the business but declined. The Miami-based fast feeder also did not respond to a request for comment.

An executive close to the account told Ad Age that the company is looking to cut back significantly on its PR spending. That approach is on trend with other spending patterns at Burger King, given that the brand's measured media spending in the U.S. has shrunk over the past three years. According to Kantar Media, it doled out $301 million on domestic measured media in 2010, down from $308 million in 2009 and $327 million in 2008.

The review also adds to a series of recent agency changes across disciplines, and it's the latest taking place without an official chief marketing officer at the company. Since its acquisition by investment firm 3G Capital last fall, the company has shifted its media-buying account from Mindshare to Starcom, as well as its creative duties from CP&B to Dentsu's McGarryBowen.

Exec VP-Global CMO Natalia Franco left the company in February, and North America CMO Mike Kappitt departed in December. Mr. Kappitt recently took on the CMO role at Outback Steakhouse. Another recent departure includes media and interactive director Tia Lang, who had worked at Burger King for more than six years and recently joined Bacardi USA. It's also understood that a high percentage of marketing employees offered a severance packaged have accepted.

During the creative review, Ad Age reported that the company encouraged agencies involved in the pitch to come up with ideas outside of its King icon and "Have it your way" tagline. The company recently resigned the King, and, in an effort to boost lagging sales -- the chain experienced continual negative same-store sales through the first-quarter 2011 -- it'll likely continue to shake up its positioning to focus more on the product than brand image.

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