Burger King Buys Into Fox's NFL Pre-Game Show

King Mascot to Appear During New 'Fired Up' Segment

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Burger King is getting fired up for football season. The Miami-based burger chain is launching a series of creative efforts with WPP Group's MindShare North America and News Corp.'s Fox that call for Burger King to sponsor a segment of the network's pre-game program as well as have its "King" mascot interact with an animated Fox robot.
Animated 'billboards' that appear on screen in the seconds between a commercial break and a return to programming will feature an animated King interacting with Fox's 'sports robot' named Cleatus.
Animated 'billboards' that appear on screen in the seconds between a commercial break and a return to programming will feature an animated King interacting with Fox's 'sports robot' named Cleatus.

"We like to be where our consumers are, whether it's right in the middle of it or near or around it, but we don't always believe that it's as effective with a 30-second spot all the time," said Brian Gies, Burger King's VP-marketing. Nevertheless, Burger King's Fox package entails the fast-food chain buying traditional commercials.

For the next 17 weeks during Fox's NFL coverage, viewers of the network's pre-game show will notice that the last segment of the program is called "Fired Up" and that it is "presented by Burger King." During that part of the show, one of Fox's football announcers will speak on an issue that has him, well, all hot and bothered -- of course, "fired up" could also refer to Burger King's popular patty offerings. Additionally, an animated version of the "King" will appear on screen, said Angela Malone, associate director-national broadcast at MindShare North America, which brokered the media deal for Burger King.

Not your average billboard
Viewers may also notice animated "billboards," or visual presentations that appear on screen in the seconds between a commercial break and a return to programming. During some of these interludes, billboards will feature an animated King interacting with Fox's "sports robot," whose name, as it turns out, is Cleatus. Viewers will also be directed to see new billboards at foxsports.com, where they will find a "BK Hub," said Mr. Gies.

Fox snared the business by winning a five-way scrum against Walt Disney's ABC and ESPN, CBS Corp.'s CBS and General Electric's NBC, according to both Ms. Malone and Mr. Gies. Sensing it wanted to do more with football, Burger King and MindShare approached all the networks after the autumn of 2007, said Ms. Malone. The two sides agreed in the first quarter of 2008, a sign of how much more planning advertisers and media outlets are putting into specialized programs.

Ms. Malone said the deal was part of a larger advertising package with the Fox network. Burger King spent about $58.4 million on Fox in 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence, and about $27.1 million between January 1, 2008 and August 24, 2008. Mr. Gies declined to comment on how the company had allocated its dollars between traditional advertising associated with football and the integrations that will be part of Fox's football broadcasts.
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