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Actor-Comedian Adam Carolla to Become Company Pitchman

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Burger King Corp. is set to break a new "candid camera" TV ad campaign from Interpublic
Group of Cos.' Deutsch, Los Angeles and New York.

The spots, which are now in production, will air later this month on national TV. The campaign promotes the fast-food burger chain's value menu.

As part of the new campaign, actor Adam Carolla of MTV's Love Line and Comedy Central's The Man Show will become Burger King's pitchman.

AdAge.com first reported the "hidden camera" campaign July 31. Deutsch has been expected to break a new effort for Burger King's "99-Cent BK Value Menu" since joining the chain's roster in May.

Eric Hirshberg, managing partner

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and executive creative director at Deutsch, Los Angeles, said, "It's a really fresh campaign, with a raw and improvised quality. It's candid camera."

'Reality ads'
The new creative, a departure for Burger King, will tap into the current fascination with "reality" or unscripted TV that has been popular with viewers.

The spots would show a duplicate of a Burger King drive-in order sign will be set up in places such as an elevator or in the middle of a street. Mr. Carolla will be nearby in a van, using the sign's hidden camera to see what's going on around the sign and to heckle and otherwise interact with the unsuspecting passers-by.

So far the stunt has only been tried on California's Venice Beach, Mr. Hirshberg said. Deutsch would not comment on the dollar amount of media time bought for the new commericals.

'Comedic approach'
"Playing off the phenomenom of reality TV and pairing it with [Mr. Carolla] as our talking Burger King Menu Board, we've come up with a comedic approach that is inspired and will get consumers talking and generate awareness," Craig Braasch, vice president of advertising and promotion at Burger King, said in a statement.

Despite all the hype attached to Burger King's value menu, the Miami-based chain is playing catch up to Wendy's International, which was first to create a menu under a buck, and to McDonald's Corp., which has been rolling out its own menu over the past several months.

Whether Burger King can drive enough sales with the new menu to satisfy its new ownership team led by Texas Pacific Group and Bain Capital remains to be seen. Market leader McDonald's has a sizable competitive edge: With its buying power, the Oak Brook, Ill-based company can chop prices with little impact to its bottom line and undercut any share Burger King could gain with its discounted menu, according to one fast-food marketing executive.

Would lose price war
"They might win a battle or two, but [fighting Wendy's and McDonald's] in a price war, Burger King will lose," the executive said.

Julian Josephson, chairman of Burger King's National Franchisee Association and an operator in San Diego, disagrees.

"McDonald's always had food-quality problem. Wendy's has good food, but Burger King has the best. When you put a value menu in Burger King, we do what McDonald's has been unable to do, which is give Wendy's a very tough run for their money," he said. "I think consumers will go with us hands down."

~ ~ ~
Kate MacArthur and Alice Z. Cuneo contributed to this report.

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