Burger King didn't respond to a request for comment and Pereira
& O'Dell declined to comment. But these moves are a sign that
incumbent shops McGarryBowen and Mother should be aware that the
roster is getting increasingly crowded, which could spell
uncertainty for them. Both agencies declined to comment.
What's curious about the timing of the moves is that the fast
feeder has actually been showing signs of stemming a long-running
decline in same-store sales.
After a protracted period of sales decline in which it fell
behind Wendy's to become the No. 3 burger chain in the U.S., Burger
King in the second quarter posted a systemwide same-store sales
bump of 4.4% globally, including a 4.4% spike in the chain's U.S.
and Canada business. During the second-quarter conference call,
Burger King North American President Steve Wiborg pointed to
marketing and new menu items as significant contributors. Mother 's
campaign ran during much of the second quarter, but Mr. Wiborg did
not credit a specific agency.
Still, some cracks in the relationships with those shops have
already become evident. Months after Burger King named McGarryBowen
its lead creative agency last year, the chain began
making it more difficult for its lead shop to get work by adding independent Mother , as well as Ogilvy
offshoot David, to its general-market roster. It also tapped Pitch,
which had already been handling the kids marketing, as an official
general-market roster shop.
The move meant that the agencies would have to compete against
one another, which has been happening more or less each quarter,
for each new campaign.
That news is surely unfortunate for McGarryBowen, which
originally signed on with Burger King as the main agency in 2011.
McGarryBowen hasn't had any work run since the end of the first
quarter, after Burger King announced that it was adding Mother ,
David and Pitch as general-market agencies.
In the second quarter, Mother 's celebrity-laden campaign ran
for much of that period. (That had its own set of issues thanks to
the Mary J. Blige ad that was yanked out of rotation after being
criticized for reinforcing African-American stereotypes.) David's
campaign that promoted Burger King's barbecue products ran earlier
As Burger King continues to shop around for agency partners, one
thing it may want to consider is that many prominent shops will be
reluctant to take on business solely for project work, as it will
conflict them out of larger opportunities in the fast-food
Contributing: Rupal Parekh