Despite the recent "horse meat" scandal in the United Kingdom, Burger King's consumer perception in the U.S. has remained relatively steady. According to YouGov BrandIndex, the brand's perception took a big hit in the UK market, however.
Buzz scores in the UK declined from 2 to -15 while its overall brand health score fell from -8 to -18.
The scandal broke early last month when BK's supplier Silvercrest Foods came under investigation for "potential contamination" of some products. Specifically, the supplier had been accused of using non-approved horse meat.
When the investigation was announced, Silvercrest Foods was approved to supply 100-percent Irish and British beef patties for Burger King restaurants in the UK, Ireland and Denmark.
According to a statement from Burger King: "Despite assurances from them that our products were not implicated, we immediately launched our own internal investigation, which included scientific testing, inspection of the Silvercrest facility and scrutiny of traceability records."
In the interim, Burger King transitioned its restaurants in those markets to other approved suppliers from Germany and Italy as a precaution. The backup suppliers had provided DNA evidence to confirm their products were equine-meat-free. These suppliers continue to provide the products being sold in Burger King restaurants today.
The story was covered heavily in U.S. media, many times without mention of the supplies being confined to Europe.
However, Burger King U.S. kept its perception ratings relatively steady — just a recent very modest slide — by announcing immediate DNA tests in all countries. So far, the burger chain has experienced nothing resembling the deep perception hit that Taco Bell took when it faced a January 2011 lawsuit challenging the chain's marketing claims about the percentage of beef in its tacos. That lawsuit was suspect and eventually dropped voluntarily by the plaintiff.
Burger King was measured in the U.S. and UK with YouGov BrandIndex's Buzz score, which asks respondents: "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?"
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