BURGER KING BEGINS SHIFT TO INTERPUBLIC SHOPS

Burger Chain Still Shifting Accounts as Sale From Diageo Nears

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Burger King today said it will use the next 90 days to transition an estimated $250 million in business to its two new Interpublic Group of Cos. roster shops.

The No. 2 fast-food chain is transferring field marketing and creative duties to Deutsch and media planning and buying assignments to Media First International, both New York. The business was with Bcom3 Group's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Chicago and New York, its field agency since 1994, and sibling MediaVest, New York.

Burger King wouldn't confirm billings or how the dollars are allocated.

Review still pending
Assignments at other

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agencies remain unchanged, the company said, although a review for promotions and premium services continues and has been winnowed to five shops. Burger King hopes to name two other agencies that will join lead shop Equity Marketing, Los Angeles, in handling its high-volume global premiums business. One of the agencies in the review is said to be Burger King's promotions shop DraftWorldwide, also part of Interpublic.

Rick Dow, Burger King senior vice president of marketing programs and sales, credited Interpublic's vice chairman, David Bell, for creating a platform for integrating services across the holding company and making the shift from the Bcom3 agencies possible.

"We're very pleased with the talent from Deutsch and [Media First], plus the oversight of [Interpublic]," he said, emphasizing the marketer's need for rapid turnaround and long-term strategic thinking. "We can do that very readily across the [Interpublic] network. These are fundamental advantages, but if from time to time we need to tap ad hoc resources, we will."

Burger King's management team has been dressing up the chain for its sale from parent Diageo and has over the past 17 months steadily moved accounts to a variety of agencies with ties to Chris Clouser, Burger King's global chief marketing officer.

Interpublic foothold
Mr. Dow was quick to dispell any notions that today's announcement was tied to the sale. Several executives close to Burger King have said the move was spurred by Interpublic so it could get a foothold on the account prior to its sale.

Deutsch joined the roster in May as a project agency and is expected to break new creative in September or October, most likely for a national rollout of the chain's value menu. Interpublic in May purchased Media First, which joined Burger King after taking a bite out of MediaVest's lion's share in September 2001 with cable and then print buying and planning duties. Other Interpublic shops on Burger King's roster include Campbell-Mithun, Minneapolis, which handles promotional and children's marketing.

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