Burger King is 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. 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 17,800 outlets in 2018 and system sales of $21.6bn, up 9% year-on-year. Tim Hortons and Popeyes add another $10.6bn combined to the group total. Virtually all outlets are franchised. RBI's reported revenues for 2018 were $5.4bn, with net income of $1.2bn. Daniel Schwartz moved up to executive chairman of RBI in 2019, with José Cil, former president of Burger King, becoming CEO. Alexandre Macedo is president, Tim Hortons; Alexandre Santoro 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 5th October 2018
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Historical profile information for Burger King
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.
Adbrands Daily Update 21st Jun 2019: Interpublic's Grand Prix haul continued at Cannes with two top prizes to FCB on Wednesday, adding to the three already collected by McCann and Momentum, and then three more on Thursday. FCB New York collected its first Grand Prix of the festival for Direct with its cheeky "Whopper Detour" mobile campaign for Burger King. Another followed in the Mobile category. "Whopper Detour" also collected a third Grand Prix on Cannes' final day, in the prestigious Titanium category, making it the only campaign to win three Grand Prix this year. The agency created a GPS map of all arch-rival McDonald's 14,000 outlets in the US. When users of the Burger King app passed within 600 feet of one of those branches, they were sent a direct message offering a BK Whopper instead for just one cent, with directions to the nearest outlet.
Adbrands Social Media 23rd Apr 2019: "Go On, Say It". Nice work from BBH London for newish client Burger King, designed to emphasise the fast feeder's trademark brand. It's a bold - and funny - strategy to show customers being turned away just because they say the wrong thing, but it really makes you want to try this out for real. What *would* they do at your local Burger King if you went in and asked for a cheeseburger. I dare you to have a go and then tell me what happens in the comments.
Adbrands Social Media 4th Feb 2019: "Eat Like Andy". What a find! There weren't many big surprises among the Super Bowl's hitherto un-sneaked ads, but Burger King's spot was one of them. Oddly, it's credited to both the fast feeder's main creative agencies David Miami and MullenLowe, despite the fact that neither shop did much more than find this great piece of archive footage, which comes from a 1982 documentary by director Jorgen Leth entitled '66 Scenes in America'. No other creative work was required , making it one of the least complicated ads in the Big Game. However, typically in these lawyer-dominated times, it took a whole year to negotiate usage rights with Jorgen Leth estate and the Andy Warhol Foundation. It was probably worth it, this is a little gem of cinema verité art in its own right.
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