BURGER KING'S SALES GAINS MEAN AD BUDGET BOOSTS;1997 SPENDING PROJECTED AT $300 MILLION, UP 10% FROM '96

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Burger King Corp.'s ad budget will increase by 10% to $300 million next year, and franchisees have committed an additional $40 million in fresh ad funds "beyond their contractual obligation," said Paul Clayton, senior VP-worldwide marketing.

The boost is commensurate with a 9% increase in worldwide system sales, to $9 billion, for BK's fiscal 1996 ended Sept. 30.

VALUE PAYS OFF

The No. 2 burger chain's back-to-basics menu strategy to a focused, value-oriented marketing message is paying off, the executive said.

"We're going to stick with what's working .*.*. We are in a brand-building mode," he said.

According to BK, the company now controls 17.1% of traffic in sandwich restaurants and 16.2% of sales. Same-store sales, which measure performance of existing units, were up 2.6% in the U.S.

In mid-February, the chain plans to rev up its Kids Club with a promotion to coincide with the start of the 1997 Nascar racing season. The monthlong tie-in pairs Burger King with cable TV's Cartoon Network and Turner Home Entertainment's Wacky Racing characters, said Richard Taylor, director of youth and family marketing.

BK RACING ADS

The program, called BK Racing, will feature toy premiums based on Wacky Racing characters as well as Nascar celebrities such as Joe Nemechek and Jeff Gordon. A TV campaign from Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, will support.

Although the promotion is not an official Nascar tie-in (McDonald's Corp. is its official fast-food sponsor), BK Racing reflects a growing relationship between Burger King and the sport.

As it enters its first year after losing its promotional alliance with Walt Disney Co. to McDonald's, Burger King is looking ahead to other film ties, including the Memorial Day weekend release of "The Lost World," the sequel to "Jurassic Park."

Mr. Clayton noted that the adult-targeted "Lost World" promotion will be complemented by a child-oriented tie-in with the cartoon "The Land Before Time." Separate ad campaigns will support each.

`BETTER OFF' WITH CHOICE

"It's more complicated than saying `Disney solves all your problems.' In a lot of ways we're better off" with a choice of promotional partners, said Robert Lowes, the chain's chairman-CEO.

Among BK's partnership ventures is a late 1997 tie-in with "Anastasia," Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.'s first attempt to encroach on Disney's lead in animated feature films.

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