An Unlikely New Pair: Burger King and Alison Brod PR

Fast-Feeder's Choice Signals New Focus on Female Consumers Instead of Just Frat Boys

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At the end of its search for a consumer PR shop, Burger King has selected indie lifestyle shop Alison Brod PR, Ad Age has learned. The moves come as the fast-feeder is said to want to target women as part of its marketing initiatives going forward.

Coyne PR, the incumbent on the account since 2011, said it declined to participate in the review but would not comment further.

Prior to hiring Coyne, Burger King had worked with Edelman since 2005. During the review in 2011, Edelman also declined to defend the business. At the time, an executive close to the account told Ad Age that the company was looking to cut back significantly on its PR spending.

During the most recent review, the company looked at a different sort of mix of PR agencies than it had in the past, ones with consumer lifestyle experience, including DKC and Alison Brod, both of which are small independent shops. In addition it looked at Marina Maher Communications, a shop that Omnicom acquired in late 2011; and Interpublic's Devries. The agencies either declined to comment or couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The recent PR pitch came around the same time as Burger King changed its lead creative shop to a smaller, indie player. After 18 months with Dentsu's McGarryBowen, the chain named Mother New York, its lead creative shop in the U.S., rolling out a series of ads that introduce more of a human element to the brand's advertising. Prior to naming Mother its lead shop, it added Ogilvy offshoot David to its general-market roster and tapped Pitch, which had already been handling kids' marketing, as an official general-market roster shop.

The PR review began about a month ago with chemistry checks in Miami, according to industry executives.

It's understood that Rock Orange, Burger King's new corporate PR shop, will not be affected by the review. The marketer's VP of global communications Miguel Piedra launched the agency this year.

The selection signals a move by Burger King to target women in its communications going forward, executives familiar with the matter said. Alison Brod definitely has female-focused brands as part of its portfolio, such as Piperlime and Godiva, and it's earned its reputation as a lifestyle shop with roots in fashion, beauty, lifestyle and luxury goods.

The firm has, though, over the past couple of years diversified its portfolio to include accounts like Pop Chips and Sears. So the addition of Burger King could further that goal.

--Maureen Morrison contributed to this story.

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