There always has been unintended irony in the choice of “Taste is King” as the positioning slogan Burger King uses in Europe. The company no doubt sees it as a salute to what it believes to be its superior food. But a recent history of snickering, sophomoric marketing and advertising gambits (see the SpongeBob kids commercial and others) suggest that the brand is not at all about good taste.
And so it’s only right that Burger King has introduced its silly plastic-head-king character in the UK just as the chain is about to change ownership (to 3G Capital) and bring in a new CEO. BK won’t ask me, but getting rid of its boorish, mute brand effigy is the first thing I’d tell Burger King’s new owners to do. Taste is king, and the Burger King Whopper is a top-class burger. Build your brand around it. But the once and futureless king character is as versatile as the frozen expression on his face; he’s a one-note joke that isn’t funny anymore. Unless BK really wants to focus on winning over 10 year olds,I’d say it’s time for the chain to overthrow the monarchy and make taste king. But that’s me.
The King arrived in the UK on September 4, accompanied by an entourage of 5-second TV adverts (plus a 60-second spot embedded here) teasing about his arrival. Burger King tried this “He’s coming” gambit in New Zealand earlier this year, and all the phony anticipation resulted in…nothing, really. The King came, appeared in commercials, New Zealanders yawned and now its advertising is back to pushing product (without the king) as it should be. The king moved on.
I’ve made no secret of my infatuation with Burger King’s “Geschmack ist king” campaign in Germany. Black leather, flames, over-the-top passions; That is burger advertising and it doesn’t need a voiceless king with a plastic head to be fascinating. Burger King has shown a laudable ability to revise its signature Whopper into near endless variations: the Bourbon Whopper, Angry Whopper, California Whopper, Spicy Mexican Whopper, etc. McDonald’s, conversely, doesn’t mess with the Big Mac. The real competitive opportunity for Burger King in is food innovation. Not mascot mayhem. Put up a real fight for burger supremacy, BK. Not a plastic one.