When Burger King decided it wanted to take back its status as the second-largest fast-food burger chain, it brought out the big guns, like Sophia Vergara, David Beckham, Jay Leno, and Mary J. Blige. Can Wendy compete?
The celebrity burger buyers seem to be effective. In the first quarter of 2012, Burger King’s North American same-store sales jumped 4.2 percent. In that same period, Wendy’s sales increased less than 1 percent. In April, Burger King’s same-store sales rose 9 percent—nearly tripling the rate enjoyed by the market leader, McDonald’s.
Industry experts say such growth is due to several factors. Last year, Burger King suffered some poor sales in its first quarter, so the gain this year looks even better. In addition, Burger King relied heavily on price cutting promotions and coupons during the first quarter. Along with its roster of A-list celebrities, Burger King introduced a new menu with some healthier items, including smoothies, frappes, salads, and chicken wraps.
But the move has not been all positive. The advertisement featuring Mary J. Blige had to be pulled when the company faced licensing issues. Protests accused the burger chain of exploiting racial stereotypes. The controversies were significant enough that for its advertising campaign in the third quarter, Burger King appears poised to switch advertising agencies. In contrast, Wendy’s has embraced a consistent plan, sticking with an uncontroversial campaign featuring Wendy Thomas for the entire calendar year.
Unfortunately, marketing consultants have criticized both companies: The lack of consistency in Burger King’s marketing causes consumers to question what the company stands for. But Wendy’s ads fail to create any emotional connections for people.
- For fast-food burger chains, what is the best advertising approach?
source: Maureen Morrison, “Is Burger King Poised to Retake Second Place from Wendy’s?” Advertising Age, May 28, 2012.
Blair Ginden said:
For burger chains, it is important that they appeal to what people want in their advertisements. It is not all about how fancy the commercial is, but about how they portray their product. They should focus on what they are trying to sell and why it is better than their competitors. Because Burger King is being so inconsistent with their adds, it is causing people to question the company, which is certainly a bad way to be advertising. People want to know that a company will be consistently providing a quality item, especially from a place like Burger King. Wendy’s is consistent, but they do not create an emotional connection, which makes people less connected to Wendy’s. Many people are passionate about liking McDonald’s or Burger King better, because they have this sense of a connection. Wendy’s however is often lacking this connection and is not part of this debate. Chains must find a balance of consistency and personal connection to be successful in their advertising.
Rebekah M. said:
For fast food burger chains, because there are three main competitors whose products could be viewed as being quite similar, it is important that they advertise to differentiate their food from the other companies’. To do this they should focus on how their food is different, better tasting, healthier, etc. They could also use celebrities to promote their product as Burger King is doing. This is probably the best way to market their products because people connect to celebrities and thus want to be like them and thus go to Burger King to get the same type of food as say, Jay Leno. The problem with Wendy’s is that they are using the same person who has represented the company for years, so there is no new attraction to their restaurants, unlike with Burger King where they keep changing the celebrity to attract customers. However, it probably isn’t good to change the celebrity representing a company too often because then customers will wonder why and thus be wary to go to that restaurant chain in the future.