Is "Be Your Way" the "New Coke" for Burger King?

In an effort to appeal to younger diners, Burger King Worldwide (NYSE: BKW  ) is changing its slogan from "Have It Your Way" to "Be Your Way." In a press release, Burger King says:

Burger King restaurants are, and always have been, a place where you come as you are, eat what you want, how you want, with whom you want, and step out of this world of standardization that tells you if you do something different, people might look at you. The Burger King brand says, bring on the eyeballs.

Huh? I don't know about you, but I go to Burger King to grab something to eat and go. Could we be witnessing one of the worst brand reinventions of our time? Will this new strategy be a failure for Burger King like "New Coke" was for Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) ?

Source: Burger King

What is Burger King thinking?
For more than 40 years, Burger King has relied on the slogan "Have It Your Way," so a change is good. In order for advertising to be effective, it must evolve. But when I hear "Be Your Way," I think of a social media company and not the world's second-largest hamburger chain. Burger King added in the press release:

...no matter who they are, they can order how they want to in [Burger King] restaurants and...they can and should live how they want anytime. It's ok to not be perfect. Self-expression is most important[,] and it's our differences that make us individuals instead of robots.

We may not be perfect, but one thing that I do expect to be perfect is my order. I think Burger King should be focusing more on its food than on us as individuals. 

Looking abroad in markets like the United Kingdom, Burger King's marketing slogan is "Taste Is King." Now if you ask me, this is a much better slogan for a hamburger chain than "Be Your Way."

Source: Burger King

Reinventions are risky
Reinventions like the one Burger King is trying don't always work. For instance, Coca-Cola tried to reinvent itself in the 1980's with "New Coke." Coca-Cola felt that it was losing customers who preferred a sweeter-tasting drink to PepsiCo. Coca-Cola introduced "New Coke" in 1985 and faced a backlash from its customers over the change. The most vocal critics were those who preferred the taste of original Coke. After being in the market for only three months, Coca-Cola brought back the original formula.

Source: Coca-Cola

Now while Burger King is not changing the flavor or taste of its original Whopper, the hamburger chain has been copying many of McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) menu items lately. In many respects, Burger King has been reinventing itself as McDonald's...except its burgers are flame-grilled. On Burger King's menus, you now find a Big King, a Rib Sandwich like the McRib, Satisfries, which Burger King advertises as being healthier than McDonald's fries, and an expanded breakfast menu.

What Burger King needs to do
Burger King needs to refresh its image and focus on the food and not the individual. Burger King need only look at Coca-Cola's experience with "New Coke." Even though Coca-Cola made a misstep with "New Coke," the company bounced back when it brought the old formula back and launched an effective marketing campaign.

Over the years, we have seen Coca-Cola introduce the slogans "The Pause That Refreshes" and "It's the Real Thing." As part of the "Real Thing" campaign, Coca-Cola introduced its most famous slogan, "I'd like to buy the world a Coke."

Source: Coca-Cola

How do shares compare?

 

Market Cap

Forward P/E

1 Year Return

Dividend Yield

Burger King

$9.01B

23.26

38.03%

1.1%

McDonald's

$101.26B

16.39

1.41%

3.1%

Coca-Cola

$178.36B

18.12

-3.22%

3%

Source: Yahoo! Finance

Foolish final thoughts
While Burger King's new slogan is not the end of the world, the slogan leaves a lot to be desired. What "Be Your Way" has to do with selling burgers puzzles me. We all knew what "Have It Your Way" meant. It meant ordering your burger the way you wanted it. It would not surprise me for Burger King to realize its mistake and bring back its old slogan. If I can have my own way, that's what I want.

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  • Report this Comment On May 28, 2014, at 10:30 PM, WallaceNDavis wrote:

    It's not a "new strategy"; it's an ad tagline. Did "Taste is King" cause problems for BK? Of course not. Will this one have any significant impact on sales? Of course not. The only thing failing here is your hypothesis.

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