Burger King | Restaurant Brands International (US)

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Selected Burger King advertising

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 16,800 outlets and system sales of $20bn in 2017. Tim Hortons and Popeyes add another $10.2bn combined to the group total. Virtually all outlets are franchised. RBI's reported revenues for 2017 were $4.6bn. Daniel Schwartz is CEO of RBI; divisional CEOS are José Cil (president, Burger King), Alexandre Macedo (president, Tim Hortons ) and Alexandre Santoro (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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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Feb 2018: Restaurant Brands International, the group that owns Burger King, Tim Hortons and now Popeyes, took investors by surprise with 4Q figures that were well above expectations. BK delivered systemwide sales growth of over 12% in the final quarter, and over 10% for the year, as a result of rapid expansion of its retail estate. Combined sales topped $20bn for the first time. The same-store increase was almost 5% for 4Q and over 3% for the year. All BK outlets are now franchised, following a decision by the group to offload all company-owned stores. "The pace at which partners like these are opening around the world highlights the strength and scale potential of our master franchise development model," said CFO and chief technology & development officer Josh Kobza. Performance wasn't anything like as strong at Tim Hortons and Popeyes, where systemwide sales were up low to mid single digits for the year, and same-store comps were down slightly. Despite the sell-off of company outlets, the group notched up a 10% rise in total revenues to $4.6bn, while attributable net income soared by 80% to $626m.

Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Oct 2017: Ads of the Week: "Bullying Jr". Ogilvy satellite David Miami shows it can also do serious for Burger King, not just disruptive or cheeky. This in-store stunt supports the fast feeder's social responsibility campaign against bullying. The idea is actually a bit silly - it would be good to know whether the customers actually got the point of the stunt after making their complaints about mashed burgers - but the role play scenes are really quite upsetting. Most people don't get involved in situations like this for fear the aggressor might pull a knife or even, in the US, a gun. So big applause to these two customers who did step up to make a stand. 

Adbrands Social Media 30th Aug 2017: Here's a delightfully offbeat spot for Burger King in France from Buzzman. What a great idea for a marketing promotion! You can currently order a "mystery burger" at the cheap-as-chips price of just 2 euros, which is almost half the price of a regular Whopper. It could be any one of 10 different variants from the standard menu. You don't know which one until you open the box. We love the whole ad, but especially that final stuffed-mouth voiceover for the brand name. 

Adbrands Weekly Update 24th Aug 2017: Ads of the Week: "Keeping It Real". Everyone likes to put the boot in on hipster chic, all that kale and artisan coffee, those beards and bicycles, it's just too hard to resist. The irony is all those ads poking fun are themselves conceived, written and directed by the very same hipsters they depict. Clemenger BBDO is the latest agency to satirise urban cool with an entertaining campaign for the Australian arm of Burger King, Hungry Jack's. You've seen ads like this before of course (most recently in Leo Burnett London's campaign for McDonald's coffee) but that doesn't make this any less funny. 

Adbrands Social Media 20th Jun 2017: We expressed some surprise earlier this year when Burger King was awarded the Advertiser of the Year award for Cannes Lions 2017. Most of the fast-feeder's global marketing is pretty run of the mill these days, but one or two campaigns a year (and only one or two) do indeed merit such an honour. Last year it was the cheeky McWhopper concept out of New Zealand. This year it is these daring (and in truth little seen outside trade media) print ads from Ogilvy's David satellite, celebrating (if that's the right word) the fact that more BK restaurants have burned down since 1954 than any other fast food chain. That's the power of flame grilling! 

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