That's right, Burger King has dropped its quirky (or, to some, "creepy") mascot after a nearly 8-year existence.
Created by long-term AOR Crispin Porter + Bogusky, it makes sense that the burger chain would cut The King loose after it amicably parted ways with the agency in March.
It also makes sense that his retirement party would be thrown as part of a larger list of sweeping changes made by 3G Capital, which bought The Home of the Whopper nearly a year ago.
Prior to the sale, The King represented the heavy QSR user – 18- to 24-year-old males who perhaps appreciate the humor and subtlety found in his spots – his permanent grin and mysterious presence lying in bed or peering through windows. It was gimmicky and even uncomfortable at times, but it got people talking.
However, The King hogged the spotlight away from Burger King's food, and sales continued to slip.
Relating solely to a demographic disproportionately affected by a slow economy and continued high unemployment rates probably didn't help The King's cause.
And so an abrupt, 180-degree change in messaging has been made, courtesy of BK's new AOR, mcgarrybowen. This message not only embraces the food, it touts the simple, quality ingredients that make up the food.
Pour over any restaurant trend list and guaranteed you'll find the words "simple" and "quality."
For measure, Burger King has clearly communicated that it is looking to broaden its consumer base well beyond young, heavy-user males. During an earnings call in the spring, North American president Steve Wilborg said part of the company's overall strategy is to reach out more to parents with kids and the female consumer.
In a move toward that goal, Burger King has gone back to the basics, shifting the focus from its mascot back to its signature Whopper. Its new ad specifically introduces a new version of that sandwich – the California Whopper – and hones in on simple (there's that buzzword again) and mouth-watering angles of fresh avocados, tomatoes, onions, bacon and, of course, a flame-grilled beef patty.
I wasn't the target demographic when The King stared down the camera, but I am now. And frankly, Burger King's new ad made me crave a Whopper for the first time in years. Long live The King.
Alicia Kelso has been a professional journalist for 15 years. Her work with QSRweb.com and PizzaMarketplace.com has been featured in publications around the world, including Good Morning America, Voice of Russia radio, Consumerist.com and Franchise Asia magazine.