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

Will Burger King's new slogan become one of the biggest marketing failures of all time?

May 28, 2014 at 4:42PM

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: 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.

New Coke

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

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1 Year Return

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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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Mark Yagalla has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Burger King Worldwide, Coca-Cola, and McDonald's. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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