BK plans to tie its image to backyard 'fire grilling'

Miami: Burger King is launching a new brand-building campaign that has plans to include a major PR component.

Miami: Burger King is launching a new brand-building campaign that has plans to include a major PR component.

The fast-food chain plans a major shift in its messaging, said Rob Doughty, VP of global corporate communications. For years, the chain has emphasized that it flame-broils its hamburgers, a difference from main competitor McDonald's.

But new brand-building efforts this year will shift to a message that talks about "fire grilling," a concept that has a positive image with consumers, Doughty said. Cooking over an open fire evokes images of backyard cookouts, he explained.

One PR effort to drive home that association will be a joint promotional effort with Weber barbeque grills. Details are still being worked out, he said, but partnering with the major maker of backyard grills will reinforce the association between Burger King and home outdoor cooking.

Other PR initiatives this year will support new product rollouts and try to garner media attention for a new ad campaign.

New Burger King CEO Brad Blum "very much sees PR as part of the whole communications mix, more so than it ever was here," Doughty said. "Brad really understands the value of PR."

Burger King took on New York agency Coltrin & Associates earlier this year to handle corporate PR and marketing communications. Weber Shandwick had done marketing work for the chain in the past.

Blum recently outlined new branding plans at a meeting of Burger King franchisees. "We have a reputation for being number two," he said. "The only place we will accept being

second is to consumers grilling in their own backyards."

He unveiled new TV commercials that play on the fire-grilling theme, and said the chain will increase its advertising on network TV.

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