The BK brand continues to flounder

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

2 March 2011

And now it’s leaving the brand in the hands of operations. What?

Natalia Franco, Burger King’s now past Executive Vice-President Global Chief Marking Officer, is out of the position after only nine months. I wonder if she ever got unpacked? I certainly hope that Burger King did not think that all of its BK brand problems could be solved during her short tenure with the company. Its problems run a lot deeper than what can be fixed in that short period of time as brand influence is a long-term haul. Not a short one.

But after seeing what they did in conjunction with letting Ms. Franco go, I have a better understanding of what is going on in the company.

“The fast food industry in general has some serious brand-related issues, the BK brand is among the most troubled.”

It looks as though that there will not be a single executive in the entire company whose only responsibility is marketing the company. Rather, that role is now divided between Jonathan Fitzpatrick, the new VP-chief brand and operations officer, and Steve Wiborg, exec VP and president-North America. The way I read it, marketing will now be incorporated into operations.

BK brandI’m not too convinced this is the right approach for a BK brand that’s been floundering for some time now. (I have never understood how the king-constumed man created preference. It was a blatant attempt at developing the BK version of Ronald McDonald, but it lacked any emotional reason for being.) When a brand is compromised, and Burger King’s certainly is, it becomes even more important to work on building the brand with a single focus. While the fast food industry in general has some serious brand-related issues, the BK brand is among the most troubled. Rather than put finer focus on their brand, they have opted to make their marketing (and brand building) a simple job function of operations.

This is really an example of confusing activity with accomplishment. By eliminating a corporate head of marketing, Burger King’s management probably believes it has “streamlined” the marketing function by combining it with operations.

It might streamline some things but not having a brand steward, empowered to keep the focus going, leads to executives sharing responsibilities and often diverting them from their marketing tasks. Consider this: In a recent study published in the Wall Street Journal, when people multitask they do each task 30% worse than if they only did a single task at a time. The legions of Burger King franchises owners must be hoping this move does not reduce Burger King’s marketing effectiveness by 30%. I don’t think they could survive that.

Burger King must put a finer focus on the BK brand and not throw it out as parts to be picked up by operations. Its brand should mean more to them than that.

See more posts in the following related categories: Advertising BK brand Branding Burger King fast food


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