Wednesday, September 21

Killing Awareness: Long Live The King

How much would you spend to send the wrong message? It's a question Burger King might be asking.

For years, Burger King has relied on gimmicks to game its awareness, going so far as delivering one of the least appetizing fast food commercials in history. Most of it, of course, featured the frozen stare of an oversized Burger King "King" head. That is, until Burger King decided to do something different.

The King Is Dead. Long Live The King.

When the first "Kingless" commercial broke, plenty of industry people had opinions. Most of them said it didn't distinguish itself in the marketplace place enough. But according to the BrandIndex, Burger King's "Kingless" advertisements are scoring higher than they have in recent history. People like the new ads.

The new ads, featuring a clean food-centric spot with fresh ingredients to introduce the new California Whopper, have given Burger King a huge perception boost among burger buyers. And while some skeptics suggest that Burger King needs more than positive perception to gain any ground against McDonald's (50 percent market share vs. 13.9 percent), the campaign is clearly off to a good start compared to the well-known but negative perception generating King.

Awareness Works. But Only With The Right Message.

There are plenty of advertising colleagues who think the ad is a bore. And there are some who argue that market research is paying off. And then there are those who say it doesn't matter until Burger King cleans up its stores. So who's right?

All of them. And none of them. Advertising is not a take-it-or-leave-it net sum game among advertising executives. It's a take-it-or-leave-it net sum game among consumers.

While the advertising is arguably boring, it seems to resonate among consumers much more than their former spots. As a first spot, McGarryBowen did the right thing. The contrast isn't between Burger King and other burger joints as much as it's a contrast between what was their marketing and what will be.

Instead of selling a clown-like king, Burger King wants to sell burgers. And for the first time in a long time, one of its commercials made me think of food instead of losing my appetite. That has to count for something.

It also counts toward how awareness really needs to be measured — as part of a more complete formula. It never did Burger King any good to be the most talked about quick service joint no one wanted to eat at. And, reflecting back on the King pole dancing, the brunt of their own joke.

Anybody Can Get A Webcam And Make Monkey Faces.

Webcam 101 for Seniors... captured 7.3 million views. I think that's great. It's a cute video.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean you want to make this video your advertisement. Or that this couple ought to head up your marketing team next week. Or that this video exemplifies a viral video.

More importantly, think of some of the decisions made by Burger King while it was supporting its long series of king/clown commercials. Every time a new advertisement launched, it temporarily moved the sales needle while quietly shrinking market share and inspiring hate groups. The King was creepy.
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