Burger King Adds the 'Whopper of Hot Dogs' to Menu

Grilled Dogs Campaign Will Be the Biggest in Five Years for the Chain

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The new Grilled Dogs will come in two versions and are considered a premium product for Burger King
The new Grilled Dogs will come in two versions and are considered a premium product for Burger King Credit: Courtesy Burger King

Burger King announced today a brand new addition to the menu: hot dogs. And it won't be just any hot dog, it will be the "Whopper of hot dogs."

"They will be like hot dogs out of a backyard barbecue," said Alex Macedo, president of Burger King North America.

The new hot dogs, supplied by Oscar Mayer, will be introduced country-wide on a permanent basis on Feb. 23, after a trial run in Salt Lake City, Memphis, Baltimore, Detroit and Kansas City, Mo. There will be two flavors: a regular version, with relish, chopped onions, ketchup and mustard, and a chili cheese version.

Like the Whoppers, they are flame-grilled, made of 100% beef and will be sold for $1.99 and $2.29, respectively. Combo meals including a small soda and fries will cost $4.49 and $4.79 each.

But the addition of grilled hot dogs is not just a way to beef up sales for Burger King. It will also boost other businesses owned by 3G Capital. 3G bought Burger King in 2010, and four years later combined the home of the Whopper with Canada's Tim Hortons to create Restaurant Brands International. On the manufacturing side of the food business, 3G and Berkshire Hathaway acquired condiment maker H.J. Heinz in 2013 and two years later added Oscar Mayer's parent Kraft into that company, creating Kraft Heinz Co. Burger King uses Heinz condiments.

The launch campaign will rely heavily on digital and social media, with a TV spot to be rolled out a few weeks after the Feb. 23 launch. Mr. Macedo declined to disclose the total ad spending for the campaign, but said it was the most significant since he joined Burger King five years ago. According to the Ad Age Datacenter, Burger King spent $371 million on marketing in 2014.

Digital efforts will be handled by Code and Theory, while David Miami is in charge of the TV campaign. Horizon Media handles TV and digital media buying. Other agencies involved are Alison Brod PR for public relations and 500 Degrees for merchandising.

Unlike Burger King's Chicken Fries, the demand didn't come from social media, Mr. Macedo said, but from the company's internal research. "It was right in front of us the whole time. It's the most obvious product launch ever," he said during a tasting event in New York on Tuesday.

Taking a jab at the fast-food and fast-casual competition, Mr. Macedo said Burger King is looking to differentiate itself by going with more of an old-school fast food menu. It is the first time the chain will offer hot dogs. In the trial cities, the new menu addition improved spending per customer and increased restaurant visits, Mr. Macedo said.

Internal training videos about the hot dogs, which will also be released publicly, feature rapper Snoop Dogg for English-speaking restaurant employees and TV personality Charo for Spanish-speaking ones. But the employees shouldn't have any problems adapting to the new menu item, since they will use the same Whopper grill, according to Mr. Macedo.