Founded in the year 1953, Burger King has changed hands many times and undergone several transformations in how they approach advertising. Throughout the 1970s and into the 2000s, Burger King’s marketing strategy was restaurant marketing agenciesbut none of them are as creative as his recent wonders.
History of Burger King
Initially named “Insta-Burger King,” the restaurant was sold to Miami-based franchisees James McLamore and David Edgerton only a year after opening. In 1955, the Burger King character was created. The Whopper was introduced in 1957, while McDonald’s was still selling small hamburgers in comparison. Within 2 years, Burger King released its first television commercial and then established its franchise system. The next decades are a wild ride. Four acquisitions and a merger between 1967 and 2002 are followed by the final Tim Hortons merger in 2014 to form a new parent company called “Restaurant Brands International”. Now the restaurant chain has more than 18,000 stores in almost 100 countries.
Rebranding of Burger King
Along with many acquisitions and mergers, Burger King brand identity has changed frequently. The Burger King character was used as a logo between 1955 and 1969, but then more simplistic designs with a burger were preferred. In 2002, new management sought to undo decades of unsuccessful advertising by going with a fresh creative team. Burger King’s marketing strategy thereafter targeted the 18-35 demographic. The brand established a new online presence and the new advertising campaigns redesigned the Burger King character nicknamed “The King”.
But when the recession hit in 2008 and affected Burger King’s targeted demographic, the brand faced another acquisition. Ultimately, that meant a new creative agency, and saying goodbye to The King. The new Burger King marketing strategy was focused on the food and the ingredients with a wider segment of customers to target. The food-first approach came with seriously creative marketing that wasn’t afraid to poke fun at the world, snub competitors or make current statements.
Burger King advertising campaigns and marketing strategies
Burger King’s creative marketing strategies in recent years certainly have a sense of humor that resonates well with its customers. Let’s look at some examples, and it’s okay to giggle a little.
In 2019, Burger King advertising strategy targeted the motorists stuck in the traffic jam in Mexico City. Using real-time data such as location and speed, billboards along the route showed the remaining time in traffic and how much time the drivers had to order directly to their cars. Food delivery by couriers on motorbikes combined with personalized messages on digital billboards made the Traffic Jam Whopper project an instant hit. This was a genius move among their other promotion customization examples. The campaign has a 63% jump into food delivery orders in the first week, and resulted in a 44-fold increase in app downloads.
McDonalds marketing strategy perhaps a unique brand, Burger King’s defies the clown. It’s not even the first time. In Scary Clown Night campaign, Burger King offered a free Whopper to anyone who dressed up as a clown on Halloween. The Whopper of a Secret campaign revealed that in every piece of Whopper advertising released in 2019, there was a Big Mac hiding, but it was so small that no one noticed. Whopper Detour, on the other hand, brought the battle to its competitors’ own home. The initiative encouraged app users to visit a nearby McDonald’s to unlock a Whopper. The joker behind this marketing strategy deliberately sent traffic to McDonald’s, just so they could build a Whopper after a second. Those at the office must be having a field day.
Burn that ad
The trolling never ends with Burger King’s marketing strategy, but the restaurant chain took aim at all its competitors with this one. Burn That Ad was a sneaky campaign. All of the advertising material that Burger King competitors released into the wild ended up promoting the Whopper burger. The way it worked, anyone could point the Burger King app at its competitors’ ads to “burn” them in virtual reality and the flames would reveal that they had won a free Whopper. It was a show of mastery in brand awareness. For the duration of the campaign, whenever a customer saw a promotion from one of the fast food chains, they thought “Whopper!”
Collaborations from Burger King’s Marketing
Along with this, Burger King marketing strategy is co-branding. During the pandemic, the brand partnered with TikTok to create the Whopper Dance Challenge. Burger King wanted to engage with the users of the growing social media platform and also capitalize on the unspoken platform trend to turn everything into a dance challenge. It’s simple: you participate, you get a Whopper for $1.
In 2022, the chain teamed up with Activision to transform a Burger King store into the Burger Town restaurant from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, complete with a gamig hub set up for customers to play. This campaign is complemented with Call of Duty themed meals and in-game perks like skins and double XP.
Burger King’s advertising campaigns don’t lose touch with pop culture either. The tongue-in-cheek meal Upside Down Burger, promoting the third season of Stranger Things, was a hit. Recently, a similar marketing strategy was followed with the “Spider-Verse” Whopper to ride the hype around the latest Marvel production.
Whopper Whopper (Whopper Whopper)
In the fall of this year, Burger King debuted its “You Rule” advertising campaign. This time, the Burger King strategy has hidden the franchise’s mascot, the King. Instead, Burger King marketing strategy treats the customer as royalty. It’s fine for an ad, but the jingle is another story. Tom Curtis, Burger King US president, admits that he didn’t like the song, didn’t find anything special about it. However, millions disagreed with him. The song went viral. By popular demand, Burger King released it on Spotify where it reached 3.3 million streams. Memes on Twitter and TikTok have also increased in popularity. And that’s how Burger King surprised itself with its marketing strategy.
In short, Burger King’s out-of-the-box marketing strategies get the job done in the most interesting ways. Do you want to follow in his footsteps? Look at us digital marketing agencies and let’s see how creative we get.