Faced with a crowded, competitive market, BK in 1993 found a way to distinguish one of its established products even as other fast-food chains were promoting new items.
"We decided not to add different things to our menu," Mr. Sansom said. "We decided to stick with what got us this far in life."
So, as McDonald's added pizza to its lineup, Mr. Sansom's idea was to focus on The Whopper. Working with an advertising budget of $7 million and with the team of Kate Anthony and Tim Heintzman at D'Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles, Burger King took to the outdoors.
"We didn't want to just show a hamburger sitting on an outdoor ad, so the campaign exaggerated certain elements of The Whopper," Mr. Sansom said.
The 10-foot-by-20-foot posters featured oversize products in nine different versions. A farmer stood next to a 6-foot-high tomato, lumberjacks sawed into a 200-pound onion and a helicopter lifted a 100-foot Whopper out of broiler flames. The tagline: "The Big Taste of a Whopper."
Mr. Sansom also decided to place BK's outdoor advertising close to its restaurants and supplement the visual billboard campaign with similar radio ads. The company developed four styles of music, including rock and Cajun, and used the background to promote price points and product offerings, such as The Whopper, normally priced at $2.17, specially priced at $1.22.
BK Canada says the strategy is a winner. The company won't release sales figures but claims it registered 15% sales growth in 1993 on the strength of the campaign while competition declined. And, BK says the Canadian branch was its top performer in the world in terms of sales growth last year.