Burger King Seeks a New 'Have it Your Way' From Bevy of Ad Shops

Fast Feeder Invites Roster and Non-Roster Agencies to Suggest Brand Positioning Ideas

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Burger King this week invited an interesting mix of agencies down to its Miami headquarters as it seeks a big platform idea to resonate with U.S. consumers -- along the lines of its earlier "Have it Your Way" positioning or rival McDonald's "I'm Loving It," people familiar with the matter told Ad Age .

The meetings follow Burger King marketing executives' efforts this summer to pinpoint a list of shops in adland that aren't conflicted in the fast-food category and could potentially take on project work for the chain.

Burger King did not respond to requests for comment.*

Currently the chain's overarching marketing platform is "Taste is King." But it seems eager to entertain new and potentially better ideas that could help Burger King communicate a unified message about the brand.

Among the shops understood to be invited to submit ideas are several already on Burger King's roster, including: Dentsu's McGarryBowen; independent Mother ; David, an offshoot of WPP's Ogilvy; and Pereira & O'Dell, which is owned by Brazilian marketing services giant Grupo ABC. The latter agency is the newest addition to the group after being asked this summer to create a TV spot promoting 50-cent soft-serve ice-cream cones.

More interesting are the non-roster agencies from which Burger King is seeking ideas. It has reached out to several big network agencies including McCann, Grey and BBDO, as well as some boutiques, such as Silver & Partners.

All agencies either declined to comment or could not be immediately reached. Whether the shops agree to proceed will depend on whether they think there's enough potential to sell through a winning idea and, importantly, whether they have enough time to do it.

People familiar with the matter noted that winning the assignment won't necessarily lead to an ongoing relationship. Additionally, shops have only about a month to formulate and present ideas; people familiar with the situation noted that Burger King's franchisee convention is in November in Las Vegas, and the fast feeder is hoping to hold final presentations there.

Burger King last quarter showed signs of reversing a long-running decline in same-store sales. After a lengthy dip in sales that saw the chain fall behind Wendy's to become the No. 3 burger chain in the U.S., in the second quarter it posted a system-wide same-store sales gain of 4.4% globally, including a 4.4% spike in the chain's U.S. and Canada business.

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Update: After publication, Burger King contacted Ad Age and confirmed that it has enlisted a roster of shops to develop and deliver creative in the U.S., including around the 'Taste is King' positioning. Per a spokesman in a statement: "Agencies have been asked to pitch concepts which bring this positioning to life in new and unexpected ways."

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