Burger King Retiring it’s King Mascot

The Burger King’s King Mascot is supposed to lure young men into the stores to eat more burgers.

I am not a man. Still, I wonder if the men really resonate with the King? Seriously, guys, will you respect a weird bloke that puts on a creepy plastic mask who enjoy lurking outside you window or next to your bed? For sure, a woman will not find him at all desirable.

Using a mascot to represent your brand is great. Just look at the contribution of Mickey Mouse from Disneyland, Tony The Tiger from Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes Cereal, Great Root Bear from A & W Root Beer & Restaurants Burger and of course, Ronald McDonald from McDonald’s. But the King mascot of Burger King? While I have no evidence, I seriously doubt His Majesty has enriched the vault or the image of Burger King since 1955.

The King was first spotted on the sign at Burger King’s first store in Miami in 1955. During the last 55 years, the King has undergone various makeover including going animated in ads and running with a crew of other food-themed royalty like “Sir Shakes a Lot.” So far, he was most distinguished in the NFL broadcasts. His Majesty was digitally included in the real NFL footage and of course, he must be seen scoring touchdowns. The King even performed the “Lambeau Leap”. Real cool for a king eh?

Not so cool when Burger King announced the retirement of the King in August 2011.  Reportedly, Burger King has been badly lagging behind its main competitor, McDonalds’, both in popularity and sales, as well as Subway and KFC for many years. Targeting just the men doesn’t work anymore because lots of them are out of jobs or tight with money during this economic tsunami period. So mums and kids are the new target audience. Immediately, this calls for a different ball game with the King being booted out unceremoniously. It is a wise move as I’m pretty certain mums and kids don’t like scary looking man bouncing up and down around them. Eeeek!

Anyway, let see how long the King will get to enjoy his retirement. This is not the first time the King has gone for a holiday. In 1989, Burger King got him to take a vacation so that the “Kids Club Gang” can have the playing field. The King returned in triumph in 2004 when the company hired Crispin Porter + Bogusky, known for its edgy work, in 2003. CP+B dolled up the King and gave Burger King an edgy campaign, just look at the “Wake Up With the King” TVC. Sadly, it just didn’t help capture market share from it’s competitors. Still, Burger King keeps its faith in it’s King, until now.

Over the years, we have not seen Ronald McDonald touting burgers nor have we seen Energizer Bunny making lots public appearance. Perhaps , these companies are just letting their products do the talking. And Burger King decides to take a leaf from there. They intend to let the freshness of their products do justice. That’s good. I always prefer Burger King’s burgers to McDonald’s, though I wouldn’t say the same of the french fries. Anyway, I doubt Burger King, and its customers, will miss the King very much. I won’t at all. However, I’m eagerly looking forward to see what the new agency, McGarry Bowen, come up for Burger King in 2011 and beyond.

17 Replies to “Burger King Retiring it’s King Mascot”

  1. I have always found the “king” creepy. It never made me want to eat at BK, that’s for sure. I’m with you – I prefer their burgers to McD, but not their fries. But I’d rather eat at In-N-Out Burger but they are mostly west coast.

  2. I am seeing this mascot since my childhood. If they really change this mascot, I will really miss this mascot. I do not really know that it really goes with it’s image or not but many of us became used to this mascot of Burger King. :)

  3. I live in Tucson and I know people from California who waited to move here until they had In-N-Out here! That is how devoted their fans are.

  4. Rob – My feel is that they will go for a new direction. I think they now know it’s tough for them to create a royalty to be as popular as Princess Diana or Princess Kate

  5. @ Ruben. In & Out is awesome. We’ve got one relatively close to us and try to stop in at least 4-5x a year. Not a huge fan of their fries, but a double double with cheese is heavenly. (And terrible for you!)

  6. Interesting post on the use of mascots versus real product quality.

    If you look at the F&B industry in Singapore, almost all the outlets are increasingly focused on the food itself – its freshness, aromas, tastes, aesthetic quality and overall sensorial experience – as opposed to other hygiene factors like the physical environment, service, or even toys/giveaways. Sure, there would still be tie-ups between fast food chains and major movie franchises for “Happy Meals” or their equivalents for kids, but adults are drawn by the food rather than the image of what dining at a particular restaurant is about.

    A case in point is the untimely demise of Rainforest Cafe formerly at Liang Court. Great concept, wonderful theatricality, and fabulous immersive environment. However, the food failed (pricing and all), and that brought down the novel concept rather quickly.

    Perhaps a related point is this. In an age of individuality of what some term as the “Me” Economy, folks do not want to be pigeonholed into branded boxes – a McDonald’s person, a KFC person or a Burger King person. Their focus is more on the experience itself and how it adds value to their life. Key to that is the taste itself, and F&B outlets would do well to then capitalise on that factor.

  7. Hi Walter – Nice to see you again ! Rainforest Cafe is positioned as a family restaurant if I’m correct, and hefty price don’t sit well with most families. It will be a place to go for an occasional treat, but when the food failed, it slips from the top mind recall list easily. A beautiful place gone wasted indeed. And, yes, Singaporeans are foodies. We will mostly choose food over ambiance … just see the queue at some famous stalls at a few un-air conditioned hawker centres.

  8. Hi Jens – Makes me wonder even more about IN & OUT. As for BK, seems that most people gives a thumb up for their burgers and not their fries too. Wondering if BK and your IN & OUT will eventually listen to feedback and improve on their fries?

  9. It’s so creepy that I sometimes think that they do it on purpose to grab the attention. They are very serious company with a lots of people employed in marketing as well. It’s impossible that they don’t know how bad this is.

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