Thursday, June 25, 2009

The sweet smell of flame-broiled desperation

Adfreak recently featured this Burger King ad from Singapore:

Not exactly subtle, eh? But what else can we expect from the corporation that managed to put Spongebob Squarepants and Sir Mix-A-Lot in the same spot:

Some people found this pretty amusing; others did not.

My interest in all this is how Burger King, as a "challenger" brand, is resorting to increasingly desperate viral campaigns in the face of tumbling profits. Sure, they're coming up with some very entertaining gimmicks, like joke marketing "Flame", "the body spray of seduction, with a hint of flame-grilled meat" and using a hilariously saucy web site to make it viral. (Although I did feel like I might catch something from it...)

But what about the basics? Perhaps "the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about", but I can't see how BK's innovative marketing efforts are going to get people to crave their hamburgers. A cheeseburger is just about my favourite food on the planet, but Burger King seems to have forgotten what they're selling. On the other hand, I thought Harvey's "Meat. Fire. Good." campaign of a few years back was just about the best primal pitch of all time. They know why I go there; they just need to keep reminding me.

In my humble opinion, Burger King needs to focus on the food. I haven't eaten a Whopper in years, and I'm not going to start because the company has a wicked sense of humour. Besides, no matter how cheeky a corporation gets in its advertising, the Internet can always do them one better (found posted on

That about sums it up. It's not the kind of fast food I'd be willing to lose friends over.


  1. I've never eaten at Burger King and having an advertisement of a woman who looks eerily similar to a blow-up doll with a 'super seven incher' in front of her face will certainly not lure me there now. The only thing that was missing from this crass ad was mayo on her face.

  2. Y'know, I think you're right. There's nothing that differentiates Burger King from the pack. Harvey's has, I think, a BETTER burger. McDonald's has a CHEAPER burger. If you can't compete on price or quality, what do you compete on?! Apparently Burger King thinks that that answer to that question is that they'll compete on taste -- or lack thereof in their ads!

  3. I don't think the ad show anything substantial enough to incriminate them.

  4. I agree with Sarah.
    The ad is just vulgar.

  5. BK dropped the ball ages ago when it came to advertising. They've tried to rely on catchy gimmicks and "in the hip and now" catchphrases, but the problem with these approaches is their longevity and their inability to be adapted to a changing customer base.

    What they should have stuck with, is the "Have it your way" angle. Notice how they're trying to get on the "healthy" bandwagon with fresh fruit smoothies and fresh salads? That's great, but they have no *basis* for it. They never started with an angle in that direction. "Have it your way" could have been adapted to fit this shift in appealing to the consumer, but they left the campaign in the dust to focus on "quick fix" campaigns to boost sagging profits.

    Now BK is the #3 fast food chain, since Wendy's overtook them in March of this year.