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'LION' IS NEW KING OF LICENSING JUNGLE BK GETS THE HERO IT NEEDED

By Published on .

Burger King Corp.'s marketing, relying on transitional ads from UniWorld Group, New York, until new agency Ammirati & Puris rolls out a fresh campaign in the fall, desperately needed a lion-size shot in the arm.

The success of "The Lion King" goes a long way toward redeeming Burger King's lackluster tie-in to last summer's box office flop "Last Action Hero," which embarrassed some restaurant operators.

Some Burger King franchisees reported sales tripled at many outlets last week following the June 24 opening of "The Lion King."

Burger King is offering seven collectible figures from the film and four collectible cups, backed by an estimated $10 network TV campaign from kids agency Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, New York.

Said a Burger King spokesman: "This is the best Disney promotion we've done. Kids meal sales have tripled since we started [June 20]. By the end of next week, we will have sold 17 million premiums. We produced 30 million premiums for the promotion, which lasts three more weeks."

Michael P. Jones, who runs 21 Burger King stores in the West Islip, N.Y., area, said the promotion's performance has been "fantastic. Our customer counts are well over three times [what they normally are]. I would say we sell about 300 extra kids meals a day."

He said their supply of premiums is in "reasonably good shape" because he asked for heavy advance orders.

Mr. Jones, a member of the National Franchises Association executive committee, said he met with the other 14 committee members to weekends ago, and all were "very pleased and happy" with the promotion.

Burger King said if it runs short of premiums, it instead will distribute "Lion King" trading cards, now available only at AMC Theaters showing the film.

Franchisees say next summer should bring another Burger King-Disney partnership, pointing out that previous pairings with Disney's "Aladdin" and "Beauty & the Beast" have proved successful.

Promotion and licensing executives say that despite Burger King's overwhelming success with "The Lion King," McDonald's Corp. has also fared well with its tie-in to "The Flintstones."

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