Published on .

Feb. 27, 2001

By Kate MacArthur and Richard Linnett

Burger King Corp. hopes to reclaim its title as "king of the burgers" with an adult-market campaign set to break March 5. As the crown jewel of the Diageo unit's $400 million marketing budget, this first effort by new agency McCann-Erickson Worldwide,

'In the Land of Burgers, Whopper Is King'
New York, carries the tagline "In the land of burgers, Whopper is king," according to people familiar with the effort.

Burger King is trying to wrest the top-burger crown from McDonald's Corp. in what has become a highly saturated and challenging market. Burger King's same-store sales in the second half of 2000 fell 6% globally and 7% in the U.S., though the chain said the sales decline has been less steep in the first two months of 2001.

Declined to comment
A spokeswomen for Burger King and Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann declined to comment Feb. 27 on the tagline or the campaign.

Burger King begins its campaign less than a month after hiring McCann as its North American adult-market agency. But that quick turnaround is not that surprising: In the review, McCann showed commercials that Burger King has said it tested and found nearly ready to roll as presented.

Burger King moved its account to McCann from Interpublic sibling Lowe Lintas & Partners, New York, following a review that began last September. Burger King also is readying a kids' campaign, from Interpublic's Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis; global promotions from Interpublic's Draft Worldwide, Chicago; and premium efforts from Equity Marketing, Los Angeles, and Omnicom Group's Alcone Marketing Group, Irvine, Calif.

TV spots
It was not immediately clear how many TV spots Burger King will launch with in the new campaign. Advertising Age obtained information on four 30-second executions believed to be produced by McCann; the fast-food chain's spokeswoman said these four were presented in earlier storyboards and are not part of the launch effort. These spots, though, could give an indication of Burger King's direction, including an emphasis on the Whopper and on promotions.

In one of those four spots, "Zoo," the Whopper is effectively the king of the jungle. In the brand-oriented spot, a 20-something zookeeper makes his rounds to each cage, feeding lions, bears -- and then feeding himself a Whopper. Silence falls on the menagerie as the animals all stare at the man and his burger.

Burger King has repeatedly said it intends to revisit the core brand attributes of the Whopper to bring back lapsed customers.

Three other spots take a more promotional angle -- more of a free-for-all for Burger King.

While the Whopper is destined to be the star of the campaign, much of the effort seems built on giving away add-ons such as Frozen Coke and Hershey Pies to spur Whopper sales.

'She digs me'
In the spot "She Digs Me," a guy wearing a big smirk on his face and carrying a Whopper on his food tray sits down with a friend at a table. He says to his friend, "The girl at the register really digs me." When his buddy replies, "Yeah, right," the confident Casanova insists, "Check it out, she gave me this Frozen Coke for free." But behind him is an in-store promotion poster that reads: "Order a Whopper and get one free." The spot closes with the new tagline.

A third spot called "Nice Move" shows an order-taker telling a male customer that he gets a free Coke, Hershey Pie or Cheese Bacon with each Whopper purchase. After considering the offer, the man says, "One of each," and orders three Whoppers in order to get each freebie. The spot notes: "The two most beautiful words in the English language are free food."

The fourth spot takes a direct shot at archrival McDonald's. "Sad" centers on a group of guys in a Burger King comparing their freebie loot. One got a Frozen Coke, and another got a Hershey Pie. A third fellow, named Hal, strolls up to brag, "Check it out guys, two more railroads and I win a small soda," referring to a Monopoly gamepiece from McDonald's. "That's great Hal, good luck buddy," one of the guys tells Hal as he crosses his fingers and walks away. A voiceover comments, "The Whopper says don't play with your food," while one of the guys says with pity, "So sad," reinforcing that Hal doesn't realize that when you buy a Whopper you get free food.

Copyright February 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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