Marketing 50

BK TenderCrisp

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Few major restaurant chains would dare launch a new product without lengthy testing. But Burger King Corp.'s marketing team needed to reverse a sales dive after a series of failed products, so management launched Project Moonshot and fast-tracked development of a whole-filet fried chicken sandwich, the BK TenderCrisp, as its inaugural push.

"We knew from our business analysis that 80% of our losses in 2003 were composed of burgers and fried chicken products," says Russ Klein, president of Burger King Brands and company exec VP-chief global marketing officer .

Not that those products hadn't been in the pipeline, but then-CEO Brad Blum had been trying to focus on healthier products. When sales tanked, the team reset its target on the core frequent customer.

"The phenomenal growth was on the chicken business, and the burger business continues to grow but was more saturated," says Carlos Ribas, senior director-product marketing. He and Dawn Foster, then manager-product marketing, had been working on improving the chain's chicken portfolio, and she led the cross-functional team to drive the chicken strategy.

"Dawn was the engineer who got us from that overview to the marketplace in literally 90 days," says Mr. Klein.

Getting the product quickly through the supply chain was a "Herculean management process," says the 47-year-old Mr. Klein. Agrees Ms. Foster: "We were always wondering if there were enough chickens out there."

Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, created the saucy viral Internet campaign, and sales jumped another 25% to 30%, says Ms. Foster, who was promoted to director partly on the success of the launch. That Web site and accompanying ad campaign drew more than 350 million hits.

As a result, TenderCrisp has brought in more than $500 million in sales with a third of that being incremental sales, Mr. Klein says. It also provided a new marketing platform, allowing for flavor extensions in the future.

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