A new Burger King ad campaign apes McDonald’s

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

4 April 2012

Burger King needs our help. Desperately.

Well, it looks like someone else gets it. And I don’t mean an advertiser who thinks it has found the Holy Grail to stealing market share. The advertiser is Burger King, which is responding to its lost market share (dropping to No. 3 behind Wendy’s) with an aggressive Burger King ad campaign that features celebrities and new menus that basically copy market leader McDonald’s.

“When all those chasing the fast-food giant are simply aping it, McDonald’s wins.”

The spots feature celebrities such as soccer star David Beckham, Jay Leno, Salma Hayek and others featuring the virtues of BK’s new menu items like salads, smoothies and chicken snack wraps.

Burger King adBut as Janney Capital Markets analyst Mark Kalinowski told the Miami Herald, “In the long run, Burger King would be well-served to not try to be a McDonald’s clone. You can’t out McDonald’s McDonald’s.” When Burger King apes McDonald’s McDonald’s wins.

Preaching to the choir, sir.

We’ve been saying this for years. To steal market share, you must be different and better than your competition. In fact, if you copy the market leader, the market leader will win because it is the default choice when all things are equal.

No wonder, then, that McDonald’s is actually increasing its market share, with sales increasing 26% over the last five years. When all those chasing the fast-food giant are simply aping it, McDonald’s wins.

This Burger King ad campaign is being unveiled, one of its largest in recent years, in order to attract investors as 29% of the chain will go public soon. But investors should be wary. Changing the menu and offering up a huge media spend without a resonant message is a waste of time and money.

Burger King needs desperately to decide what it wants to be. Its menu should reflect that and so should its messaging. It should be focused as well. For example, one of the reasons why Wendy’s has overtaken BK is because Wendy’s, as a brand, is focused on hamburgers. When you think of Wendy’s, you think of big, beefy hamburgers.

If BK is going to present itself as a mini-McDonald’s, then that’s what it will be. A mini.


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