Burger King Strategy Working?





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Darrin C. Duber-Smith

Since 2000, Darrin C. Duber-Smith, MS, MBA, has been president of Green Marketing, Inc., a Colorado-based strategic planning firm offering marketing and sustainability planning, marketing plan implementation, and other consulting services to companies in all stages of growth. He has over 25 years of specialized expertise in the marketing and management profession including extensive experience in working with natural, organic, and green/sustainable products and services. He is a co-founder of the Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS, c. 1999) market concept and leader of the first U.S. industry task force that helped frame an industry definition of natural (c. 2005). He has published over 60 articles in trade publications and has presented at scores of executive-level events over the past 15 years. Mr. Duber-Smith is Visiting Professor of Marketing at the Metropolitan State College School of Business in Denver, CO and Affiliate Marketing Professor at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado-Boulder. Mr. Duber-Smith was the recipient of the Wall Street Journal's In-Education Distinguished Professor Award for 2009, and is author of Cengage Learning's KnowNow! Marketing blog. He can be reached at DuberSmith@GreenMarketing.net

We all remember the creative advertising campaign featuring the "creepy king", who appeared in strange places and did very strange things. The trouble with this several-years-long strategy was that the commercials really had very little to do with food. It seemed that whatever message it was that Burger King was trying to convey was utterly lost in the weirdness of the ads. After lackluster results, the agency was canned, and a new agency hired to employ a new strategic direction.

The move away from appealing to young men, who are frequent fast food consumers as a group, has resulted in a broader market appeal. New menu items such as wraps, salads, and smoothies have made the company look more like McDonald's, which is probably a good thing.

Will the changes be enough to reclaim the crown Burger King recently lost to number two player Wendy's? In addition to the new creative strategy and new menu items, it will also help matters that the company is converting many of its stores from corporate-owned and operated stores to independently-owned franchises. Independent owners tend to care more about their businesses than corporate managers because they own the stores, and so the overall product should improve. Sales are up, so the king is off to a good start.


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