GLOBAL BURGER KING BRAND PRIORITY FOR NEW TOP EXECS: AD BUDGET IS LIKELY TO RISE FOR FISCAL '97

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Burger King Corp. is eyeing a global advertising approach, although the company isn't now looking for a single international agency.

New CEO Dennis Malamatinas, 41, the former executive director-president of BK parent Grand Metropolitan's International Distillers & Vintners/Asia Pacific, said one of his priorities will be to move the burger chain, a perennial No. 2 to McDonald's Corp. overseas, to a more global approach.

'STRESS CORE VALUES'

"I think it's important as we drive [our international push] that we stress our core values and a consistent marketing message around the world," he said in an interview. A hard-driving marketer formerly with PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble Co., Mr. Malamatinas succeeds Robert Loews, who is no longer with Burger King.

"In my previous experience, you don't have to have the same agency of record [in each market] to have a consistent communication or campaign," Mr. Malamatinas added.

BK works with Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, in the U.S. and a few international markets, but mostly uses regional agencies abroad.

Also on Mr. Malamatinas' slate is a hike in BK's $300 million worldwide ad budget-$40 million of that spent outside the U.S. Although Mr. Malamatinas wouldn't specify a figure, Paul Clayton, the 38-year-old BK marketing chief who last week was promoted to president of Burger King North America, said the increase would be "commensurate with our performance."

BK's U.S. sales were up 9% in fiscal '96 ended in September.

Domestically, part of the increase should go to the introduction of the company's McDonald's-targeted "stealth fries" sometime this year, as well as marketing tie-ins behind big-budget films such as the one BK is said to be discussing with Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. (AA, March 10).

NO LONG-TERM DEAL

Mr. Clayton wouldn't comment on the timing of the fries introduction or plans for upcoming film projects, but said the company "is definitely not prepared to do a long-term deal with anyone."

Moreover, the company plans to stick to its back-to-basics strategy that helped the burger chain win a 17.1% share of the quick-service restaurant category, its highest ever, and to keep far away from McDonald's 55 cent price promotion program.

"We have no intention" of following McDonald's, said Mr. Clayton. "We will tighten and execute the delivery" of current advertising's focus on superiority of its burger.

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