BK'S STUMBLE

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Not too many quick meals ago, Burger King was eating McDonald's for lunch. Now BK suddenly is floundering again, searching for answers as it ends the run of two commercials from its latest big brand campaign and ponders whether the whole effort is salvageable. This is a campaign BK management had touted to franchisees only a couple of months ago!

Did somebody say embarrassing?

It seems only yesterday, when McDonald's wasn't saying much of anything in its ads, that BK soared on a fresh new ad campaign linking its menu items to pop music from the past, with crunchy endings that drew attention to the brand and logo. Paul Clayton, then the marketing director, had a favorite among the ads from BK agency Ammirati Puris Lintas: a spot, set to the music of "Still the One," that played up the chain's Whopper. It was BK's cheeky answer to McDonald's ill-fated Arch Deluxe sandwich introduction. As Mr. Clayton said at the time, the campaign enabled consumers to make their own emotional connection via the music.

After viewing the latest ads ourselves, we were left wondering how Burger King could have approved such a disparate group of lame-humor TV spots, with no clear, visible brand identity. Mr. Clayton, still a key player as BK's North American president (and now back in a temporary marketing role with the loss of a key executive), might have danced around about this flop. Instead, he was laudably forthright. "We need to get our advertising right," he noted. "We need to find a way to weave common elements so we are firmly developing the brand in a consistent way." Well said, and a remarkable admission so soon after okaying the disappointing campaign.

You really can't have it your way, after all. TV commercials aren't there for the enjoyment of agency people or the advertiser, but the consumer. That's who

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