Burger King | RBI advertising & marketing assignments

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Selected Burger King advertising

Burger King has long been the world's #2 hamburger chain after McDonalds, but years of under-investment had left it struggling in its rival's shadow by the early 2000s. Burger King arguably tasted better than McDonalds, but it lacked the latter's polish, administrative strength and marketing muscle. A deal was finally agreed in 2002 to free the chain from the portfolio of its then-owner, the drinks giant Diageo. Independent again for the first time since the 1960s, the #2 finally had the chance to give Big M a run for its money. Performance improved slowly but steadily between 2002 and 2010, enhanced by offbeat and unusual marketing aimed at Burger King's core young male market in North America. It has continued to specialise in more irreverent or daring advertising, often taking direct aim at its larger burger rival. In 2010, the business was acquired by investment fund 3G Capital, which vowed to ramp up the chain's previously uneven international presence. The group floated part of its equity again in 2012, and two years later agreed to acquire iconic Canadian coffeshop chain Tim Hortons for around $11bn. The enlarged group adopted the new corporate name of Restaurant Brands International. It added a third string to its bow in 2017 with the purchase of US chain Popeye's, which specialises in New Orleans-style chicken and shrimp dishes. BK is the world's 4th largest restaurant chain with 18,800 outlets by the end of 2019 and system sales of $22.9bn, up 6% year-on-year. Tim Hortons and Popeyes add another $6.7bn and $4.4bn respectively to the group total. However, virtually all outlets are franchised, so RBI's reported revenues for 2019 were just $5.6bn, with net income of $1.1bn. Daniel Schwartz moved up to co-chairman of RBI in 2019, alongside 3G director Alexandre Behring. José Cil, former president of Burger King, became group CEO. Axel Schwan is president, Tim Hortons; Felipe Athayde is president, Popeyes. 3G Capital remains the largest shareholder with 44% of equity, and is also the biggest individual shareholder in both in brewery giant AB InBev and food group Kraft Heinz.

Capsule checked 2nd September 2020

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Who are the competitors of Burger King? See Restaurants & Bars Sector index for other companies   

Historical profile information for Burger King

Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Marketer Moves 13th Jul 2022: New chief digital officer at Burger King North America. See Marketer Moves (members only).

Marketer Moves 30th May 2022: New CMO at Popeyes. See Marketer Moves (members only).

Adbrands Update 15th Nov 2021: Restaurant Brands International added yet another chain to its collection with the acquisition of Firehouse Subs, a rival to Subway. Founded in in 1994, Firehouse Subs has around 1,140 locations, almost all of which are franchised, mostly in the US. However, RBI believes the brand has considerable potential to expand internationally. System sales were around $840m in 2020. The chain will continue to be headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, under the leadership of current CEO Don Fox. Purchase price is $1bn in cash.

Marketer Moves 5th Nov 2021: More turbulence at Burger King. See Marketer Moves (members only).

Marketer Moves 22nd Oct 2021: New chief brand officer at RBI. See Marketer Moves (members only).

Adbrands Update 27th Apr 2021: "Confusing Times". Burger King completely nails the many dilemmas we face as we emerge, blinking, into the harsh sunlight of a post-pandemic dawn. For example: are you just working from home...? Or living at work? There are many more brilliant absurdities to be relished in David Madrid's superb extended film for the Home of the Whopper. None more absurd than the fact that the new Impossible Whopper contains no meat but still tastes exactly like a Whopper. Truly a world-class piece of creative.

Adbrands Daily Update 10th Aug 2020: "Late Night Stores". Burger King once again shows itself to be one of the most daring of advertisers, managing to turn negative into positive, this time to promote its late night delivery service. This year's extraordinary 'Mouldy Burger' film demonstrated the gradual decomposition of a Whopper as proof that the chain uses no artificial preservatives, while previous press ads of restaurant outlets on fire were used to promote the power of the chain's flame grills. This time, the Sao Paulo office of lead agency David scoured the internet for user-generated footage of late night bad behaviour in BK restaurants: exactly the sort of thing any sensible customer would definitely want to avoid. What better argument could there be for a takeaway delivery?

Adbrands Daily Update 22nd Jun 2020: There were some significant changes in the ranking of America's biggest restaurant chains for 2019, even before the chaos being inflicted this year by Coronavirus. According to research from industry watcher NRN, US system sales for Subway took a sharp tumble, causing the sandwich chain to fall from 4th to 6th place. Taco Bell stormed up the chart to seize 4th place. Its near-9% jump in system sales represented an increase of almost $1bn in takings. Burger King moved into 5th place. Among the Top 20, there were year-on-year declines also for Applebee's and Olive Garden, while fast-casual Chinese brand Panda Express joined the Top 20 for the first time as a result of a 12% increase in sales. Popeyes, now owned by Burger King parent RBI, chalked up an impressive 18% leap to 19th place. McDonald's, Starbucks and Chick-fil-A held firm to the top three spots respectively.

Adbrands Daily Update 27th Dec 2019: "A Whopper of a Secret". Nobody loves a smartarse, but we suspect BBH London's end-of-year campaign for Burger King in the UK may collect a few awards at Cannes next year anyway. (Too often, these days, we feel that agencies spend more time thinking how about how clever they can be rather than how they can make a great ad). This latest meta-ad reveals that all the agency's previous ads for BK this year actually included a picture of a Big Mac, but it was obscured each time by the Whopper in front (with some additional help from the laws of perspective). Well aren't you the clever ones, BBH.

More about Burger King from Adbrands Weekly Update


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