CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Burger King has named Michael Kappitt chief marketing officer for North America. The post is newly created for Mr. Kappitt, who filled in for the departed CMO Russ Klein on company earnings calls since late last year.
A Burger King spokeswoman said the chain is still searching for a global CMO. While it is growing internationally, Burger King still does the bulk of its business in North America. According to Kantar Media, it spent $310 million in U.S. measured media alone during 2009.
Mr. Kappitt joined the Miami-based company in 2002 as director-field marketing. He rose through the ranks quickly, becoming director-national promotions in 2003, and VP-consumer insights and performance analysis in 2004. He became senior VP-global business intelligence and strategy in 2007. Prior to Burger King, Mr. Kappitt spent 13 years with Vanguard Auto Rental, eventually serving as senior director-menu management.
Burger King has suffered disproportionately to fast-food counterparts over the last year, in part because of its premium positioning that helped drive sales in 2007 and 2008. The chain has worked hard since last fall to pump up value offerings, particularly with a dollar double-cheeseburger promotion. However, premium-product news, such as the launch of its Whopper Bar concept earlier this year, has seemed to garner more attention. Same-store sales continued to suffer, down 5% for the first two months of this year worldwide; same-store sales in the U.S. and Canada fell 8% during the period. The company pointed to inclement weather in the central and eastern U.S., where 75% of its restaurants are located.
According to one franchisee, sales have improved in the last month, thanks to the launch of Burger King's premium Steakhouse XT burger, which takes aim at casual dining products, and national advertising for its breakfast menu. Later this year, Burger King will begin rolling out more premium products, including ribs.