Why Burger King changed agencies

A new consumer approach for a hungry QSR

A new consumer approach for a hungry QSR

Burger King in Canada is promoting its new reduced calorie crinkle cut “Gratifies” with a national multiplatform advertising campaign – the first from Sid Lee since it took over the account in August.

The agency was awarded AOR status without a review to lead “online and offline branding efforts” for the quick service chain in Canada. Sid Lee replaces Taxi 2, which had held the account since 2008.

Alison Fletcher, director of marketing at Burger King, told Marketing that the chain is often viewed as the world’s second largest burger purveyor, but in fact its organization in Canada is quite small. (According to Technomic’s 2010 figures, it’s Canada thirteenth-largest chain restaurant by revenue and the fourth-largest burger slinger.)

Though the chain currently has fewer than 300 locations, Fletcher said one of Burger King’s strategic goals is to “aggressively” grow the business nationally. A big part of that strategy includes Sid Lee.

“We needed somebody who could look at the business but through a different lens and help us change our perspective on how we talk to consumers and what we offer them. [Sid Lee] really demonstrated to us that they could do that,” said Fletcher.

When the brand first met with Sid Lee, it was in the midst of developing its Gratifries creative platform, its biggest product launch in years, said Fletcher.

Sid Lee presented a new set of consumer insights and uncovered areas of potential growth that Burger King hadn’t explored in the past and “to be quite honest, had never even really thought about,” said Fletcher.

Sid Lee advocated marketing by psychographics as opposed to segmenting consumers by demographic (in Burger King’s case, an even gender split between male and female consumers ages 25-49). “It was very obvious as soon as we met [Sid Lee] that we were going to have an opportunity to work differently than we had in the past,” she said.

A psychographic approach suggests exploring consumers’ mindset and needs as they consider fast food restaurants

“Nobody is talking to them that way,” said Fletcher. “That depth of strategic work is something we had never gotten started on as part of managing the business. That was a really welcome step forward.”

This way of thinking, said Fletcher, will be reflected in future creative from the brand, which is scheduled to launch the middle of November. Consumers can also expect a continued menu expansion and limited time offers.

“We’re in one of those categories where consumers are craving variety day-in and day-out,” because of the high frequency level of visits and purchases among patrons, she said. “You’ve got to have those new things every day because people want to try new things.”

For now, Burger King is working hard to promote Gratifries and their French-language equivalent, Magnifrites (which launched in the U.S. last month as Satisfries). The new reduced fat fries have only 6 grams of fat per 70 gram serving and, according to a release, have 30% fewer calories than French fries from other leading quick service restaurants.

The 30-second television commercial for Gratifries is quirkier than what viewers have come to expect from Burger King. In the past, the creative was typically set in a Burger King restaurant and was slice-of-life oriented.

Burger King – GratiFries from Trevor Cornish on Vimeo.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to stop people in their tracks and get people to pay attention while they’re watching TV… We wanted to go with a tactic that was hard hitting both visually and from an audio perspective, and bring the message to them in a way that is visually entertaining and also had some humour in it,” said Fletcher.

The campaign is running through the month of October. Starcom handled the media buy, Kickstart developed the in-store materials and PilotPMR managed a national PR campaign that includes media relations and product trials in English Canada and Quebec.

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