Burger King calls the tune

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Call it a sign of the times-and a healthy one. Burger King Corp. turns to Interpublic Group of Cos. to get its business moving. It surveys Interpublic agencies working on its account and picks the CEO of one as point person to coordinate the effort. Its choice? The CEO who heads promotions, not brand advertising.

This is the way modern marketing is supposed to work. Brand advertising is not the universal prescription for all problems. Nor is the brand advertising expert always the right team leader. Diversified holding companies like Interpublic base their existence on the notion of choosing the right marketing tool for the job at hand, and giving their clients options.

The importance of personal chemistry can't be ruled out in BK's decision, of course. DraftWorldwide Chairman-CEO Howard Draft and BK Chief Marketing Officer Chris Clouser may just work well as a team. But it also seems natural that BK, looking for a fast-acting revenue-growth strategy, tilts toward promotion as the lead element. So why not hand the promotions agency the baton and let it lead the Interpublic orchestra?

BK management is under direction from its Diageo parent to get customers into its stores and higher revenue on its income statement over the next 18 months or so in preparation for an IPO or spinoff. It's not a matter of restaging the already well-known BK brand. BK's advertising and marketing need to give consumers reasons to come in for breakfast, lunch or dinner-now.

That's not every marketer's most important problem, and an emphasis on promotion is no more a universal solution than is brand image or product-feature advertising. So it's good to see Burger King and Interpublic be clear-headed about what's to be done, and willing to pick as leader of the band someone who can play the music that's called for.

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