With McDonald’s continuing to reign as the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world when it comes to burgers/QSR’s, the contest between Burger King and Wendy’s for second place has suddenly become more interesting. Wendy’s is about to surpass Burger King as the #2 burger chain.
Wendy’s has had its own struggles since the passing of its founder Dave Thomas. Recent improvements in product quality, product presentation (i.e. paper wrapped hamburgers) and in-store offerings have all contributed to recent growth and as marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management Tim Calkins notes it’s “a classic marketing story about brands that stumble and then get their footing back. This is about really understanding your brand, and being true to it.” http://bit.ly/Ar3mWW.
But I think it’s just as likely that the change in order is a situation created more by what Burger King is not doing as opposed to what Wendy’s is doing. After all – what is Burger King’s brand and how is BK being ‘true to it’? There has been much discussion on how Burger King’s desire to focus on young men has backfired and hurt its position. The bizarre ‘King’ campaign was just that – bizarre. The ‘Whopper Freakout’ ads were interesting and showed a little promise (at least I thought so) but they were abandoned as well.
Burger King seems to have forgotten its own USP (unique selling proposition) and POD (point of differentiation). Of the three, only Burger King broils its burgers. When’s the last time you heard anything about that? Of course BK’s problems are substantially more complicated than not having a USP or POD. Just walk into a Burger King restaurant and you will realize what I mean instantly. To me the few restaurants I’ve been in lately are dark, somewhat less than spotlessly clean and bereft of a variety of healthy choices as opposed to McDonald’s and Wendy’s.
As the Ad-Age article concluded ‘Indeed, Wendy’s has benefited from the woes at Burger King, much like Diet Coke benefited from Pepsi’s issues to become the No. 2 soda brand.
Burger King has struggled with management and ownership changes, and analysts have said the chain faltered by focusing too much of its marketing on young men, a demographic hit hard by the recession. Wendy’s seized the moment, made the right changes and zipped into the No. 2 spot.
However, Burger King is determined to rebound. Last year it hired Global CMO Flavia Faugeres (Wendy’s has been sans CMO since June), brought on McGarry-Bowen , and, “to appeal to a broader audience, traded in its King character in favor of food as the star of its advertising. A new brand campaign is also expected this year.’
McGarryBowen is a top notch shop but I think Burger King has quality perception problem that supersedes its identity problem. It won’t be an easy fix but Wendy’s has shown that good comeback stories still exist in the ultra-competitive QSR burger category.