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Burger King Now Offering Burgers at Breakfast

Move Comes as McDonald's, BK Defend Breakfast Against Taco Bell

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Apparently breakfast is just going to include food from all dayparts now.

As the battle for breakfast heats up this spring, Burger King is launching its Burgers at Breakfast menu. Customers will now be able to get the chain's Whoppers, burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries and even its new Big King -- the latter of which is similar to the McDonald's Big Mac -- during breakfast hours, along with its existing breakfast items such as its Crossan'wich.

Burger King's Burgers at Breakfast
Burger King's Burgers at Breakfast

The recent wave of attention on breakfast in fast food is thanks to Taco Bell's massive push into the category in late March. Taco Bell is going directly after McDonald's -- by far the leader in breakfast -- in its marketing by using real-life Ronald McDonalds as endorsers and casting the Egg McMuffin and McDonald's breakfast patrons as sadly out of touch with the times. Taco Bell has largely left Burger King alone in its breakfast onslaught, however.

McDonald's posted a couple of responses on social media to Taco Bell's offensive, but nothing too overt. The chain has also been recently advertising its McGriddles on TV, while Burger King is currently advertising its Breakfast Value Menu, which includes products priced starting at one dollar. Wendy's has dabbled in breakfast, most recently testing it in hundreds of stores, but opted to decline from moving forward because it couldn't get the traction it needed for success.

"Selling burgers at breakfast at Burger King restaurants allows our guests to start their day their way -- either with the great flame broiled taste of our signature burgers and sandwiches or with our delicious suite of breakfast offerings," said a spokeswoman in a statement to Ad Age. She added that the menu will be supported on a local marketing level via radio, out-of-home, point-of-purchase and digital.

Burger King and McDonald's are advertising breakfast to stave off an exodus of its morning customers, but they're also wise to market the daypart because it's the only time of day predicted to have any growth in the next near-decade. Breakfast accounts for some 25% of McDonald's U.S. business, though it's not known how much breakfast accounts for Burger King's sales.

Fast food, which accounts for 80% of total restaurant morning meals, showed the strongest growth, with a 4% increase over the prior year. And the forecast looks good: NPD estimates that fast-food breakfast will grow a cumulative 9% over the next nine years. By comparison, the industry overall is expected to grow less than a half a percent each year for the next 10 years.

Burger King in recent months has gotten quite aggressive in developing an overall strategy. The chain has said in recent earnings calls that its focus is to eschew a heavy limited-time product strategy -- McDonald's also jettisoned its limited-time-offering tactics -- in favor of "fewer, more impactful" items.

The chain's recent big new item is the Big King, which it introduced in November, and its chicken version of the sandwich, which it introduced in April. As part of the marketing for the Chicken Big King, the chain just last week resurrected its fabled Subservient Chicken, a promotion from 2004 that became one of the chain's weirdest and most popular campaigns.

The chain also recently named WPP's David its lead global agency to help the company has a more consistent marketing message throughout the world.

David's global appointment follows a shift in Burger King's marketing ranks. In October, the chain named Mr. Schwan global CMO, succeeding Flavia Faugeres, who exited in late 2013. In March, the fast-feeder tapped former Unilever exec Fernando Machado as senior VP-global brand marketing, a new role the company established to refresh the brand on a global level. Last June, Eric Hirschhorn was named its new North American chief marketing officer.

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