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Burger King Promoting a Food Fight

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In early 2004, as Burger King's CEO Brad Blum

reviewed the company's 2003 performance, he

decided once again that he had to do something to

spice up BK's bland performance. Industry leader

McDonald's had just reported a 9 percent sales jump

in 2003 to a total of$22.1 billion, while number - two

BK's U.S. sales had slipped about five percent to $7.9

billion. Further, number-three Wendy's sales had

spiked 11 percent to $7.4 billion, putting it in position

to overtake BK.

Blum surprised the fast-food industry by abruptly

firing the firm's advertising agency, Young &

Rubicam (Y&R), and awarding its global creative

account to a small, Miami- based, upstart firm Crispin

Porter + Bogusky (CBP). The switch marked the fifth

time in four years that BK had moved its account!

Ad agency Y&R had gotten the $350 million BK

account only 10 months earlier. To help revive BK's

sales, it had developed a campaign with the theme

"The Fire's Ready," which focused on BK's flamebroiled

versus frying cooking method. However,

observers found the message to be flat and

uninspiring, and the sales decline sealed Y&R's fate.

Challenging Conventional Wisdom

In announcing the CPB selection, Blum indicated

he had challenged the firm to develop

"groundbreaking, next-level, results-oriented, and

innovative advertising that strongly connects with our

core customers." BK automatically became the small

firm's largest customer, but CPB was not without all

impressive track record.

Chuck Porter joined Crispin Advertising in 1988.

A middle-aged windsurfer, he wanted to be near the

water. Alex Bogusky joined the firm later as a 24-

year-old art director who raced motorbikes. The

Prter-Bogusky combination clicked, and CPB racked

up local awards for its ad campaigns. A Sunglass Hut

billboard featured a huge pair of sunglasses with the

Headline "What to Wear to a Nude Beach." Because

its clients often had little money for advertising, CPB

found inexpensive ways to gain attention. For a local

homeless shelter, it placed ads on shopping cart, trash

dumpsters, and park benches.

In 1997, with Bogusky serving as creative

director, CPB finally got national attention with its

"Truth" campaign aimed at convincing Florida teens

to stop smoking. CPB started with street-level

research, actually talking to teens in order to "get

inside their heads." CPB found that cigarettes allowed

teens to establish identities, associate with brand

names, and take risks. To counter this, CPB created

the "Truth" logo and turned it into a brand. It

plastered the logo on everything from posters to tshirts,

developed a "Truth" Web site, and staged

impromptu live "Truth" parties around the state.

Between 1998 and 2002, teenage smoking in Florida

declined 38 percent. The American Legacy

Foundation picked up the "Truth" campaign and

turned it into a national promotion, leading to a bigbudget

ad at the Super Bowl - the "Shards O'Glass

Freeze Pop."

CPB followed with an award-winning, lowbudget

campaign for the BMW Mini Cooper auto. It

decided to violate conventional wisdom and launch

the U.S. campaign without TV advertising. It placed

the Minis inside sports stadiums as seats and on top

of SUVs driving around town. It got the car included

in centerfold pictures in Playboy and in movies like

"The Italian Job." It also created street props such as

a coin-operated children's ride as well as Mini games,

Mini booklets, and Mini suitcases. When BMW

finally introduced the Mini in spring 2002, the

waiting list was six months long.

Similar success with IKEA furniture and Virgin and Atlantic Airways forged CBP's reputation as an outof-




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