The King is Dead and Other News from the BK RealmBy Todd • Jun 21st, 2011 • Category: Burger Blog
Kind of a mixed bag of burger news from the folks at BK these days. Call it the good, the bad, and the gross.
First, the good. And for fast food burgermeisters, it doesn’t get much better than free Whoppers. That’s the offer that was being made last week for DirecTV customers with lots of time on their hands. The premise was splendidly simple. Tune in to Channel 111. Watch never-ending footage of a rotating Whopper. Earn a free flame-broiled burger for 5 minutes of viewership, two freebies for ten minutes, etc. But lest you think you can just call it up on your flat-screen, go to the office, and come home that night to a mailbox stuffed with redeemable coupons, BK made you “work” for your Whopper. Every so often, a prompt would appear on the screen, with a little bit of remote control action required by you to continue:
A pretty ingenious campaign, and a popular one (although some reports claim that a Canadian restaurant chain called Swiss Chalet did it first with a rotisserie chicken). “Whopper Lust,” as it was called, had dished out 50,000 free Whoppers just three days in. Marketing analysts predicted a grand total of 810,000 minutes watched over the course of the week-long promotion, which ended on Friday.
That brings us to the bad. (At least for some.) Turns out that the “Whopper Lust” stunt was the last big hurrah for longtime BK ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. After seven years, the BK burgermeisters are moving in a different (and almost surely more boring) direction. CP+B was the ad shop that encouraged you to “unfriend” dead weight from your Facebook friends list in exchange for free burgers. They brought us the Subservient Chicken, strapped NASCAR driver Tony Stewart into a polygraph machine to profess his Whopper love, got Darius Rucker from Hootie & the Blowfish to croon about the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch (still one of my all-time favorite ads), and most notably… crowned a creepy King to appear in all sorts of advertisements and promotions.
But with New York shop McGarryBowen taking the reins, their first order of business was to overthrow the King. That’s right, folks. Love him or hate him, the King is dead. And even those within BK’s brass have turned on the ubiquitous mascot. “The King is not our brand,” said Steve Wiborg, Burger King’s North America president. “He resonates with a certain age demographic and in certain media. I don’t think he has general mass market appeal.”
Speaking of things that don’t have mass market appeal, we wrap up this news grab-bag with a highly-questionable new offering from BK in Japan. Say hello to SPAM Burgers:
Actually, the SPAM Burger is third from the left in that lineup of the chain’s new BK Bites. Aimed directly at females with a tagline of, “What Women Want, Women Get,“ the baby burgs come in beef, chicken, BLT, or Monty Python’s favorite gross-food punch line, genuine SPAM luncheon meat.
Despite the snide snickering its mention inevitably engenders, Hormel’s (in)famous precooked pork-shoulder-plus-ham-in-a-can concoction apparently has legions of fans. It was introduced in 1937 and became well-known during the rationing days of WWII. But almost three-quarters of a century later, more than seven billion cans have been sold in over 40 countries worldwide, and there are close to a dozen different varieties and flavors. Spam Burgers are in and the King is out?!? It’s certainly a new era for BK… and I’m not sure I like it.