Pay Attention, McDonald’s: Burger King Has It Right

Source:  Burger King

Burger King Worldwide (NYSE: BKW  ) has "super-sized" its slogan from "Have It Your Way" to "Be Your Way." The slogan is just words, sure, but more importantly the slogan represents a corporate culture and marketing strategy that flies in the face of those of McDonald's (NYSE: MCD  ) .  The overt messages is interesting but perhaps even more so is the less-overt message that Burger King is sending.

Image is nothing
Recall the old Sprite slogan from the late 1990's that said, "Image is nothing. Thirst is everything. Obey your thirst." It was brilliant, and Burger King's "Be Your Way" reminds me of it. Burger King's slogan almost sounds like a short version of "Image is nothing. Hunger is everything. Obey your hunger."

If only McDonald's wasn't so concerned about its image, aside from how it returns value to its shareholders. For decades, we all have known that burgers, fries, and mayo-drenched chicken sandwiches aren't exactly classified as health food. I feel guilty enough sometimes for the indulgence.

Source: Burger King

Can I enjoy my triple-bun double burger with cheese and secret sauce in peace without the company selling it to me making me feel guilty by pushing apple slices and refusing to sell me the super-sized fries? It's like a beer company pushing alcohol-free beer. Cut it out already. You're killing our buzz.

The press release
On May 20, Burger King announced the new slogan. It came right out and said it. "The Burger King brand has a new global attitude" was right at the top of the release. It sounds like Burger King wants to take the guilt out of eating fast food. McDonald's critics have put this guilt onto McDonald's, and McDonald's seems to have taken the bait to the detriment of shareholders.

In Burger King's release, it says that its slogan is destined to remind people that they can live how they want, anytime they want, it's OK not to be perfect, and most importantly they can order how they want. Burger King states:

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."

This seems in stark contrast to the perception that McDonald's has been creating over the last few years, intended or not.

Source: Burger King

Double the length, double the flavor
On June 2, Burger King demonstrated its "no apologies" attitude by launching the "Extra Long BBQ Burger." Sticking with its forget-your-diet philosophy of "bigger is better," the sandwich is "super sized," and Burger King is proud of it.

Burger King describes the sandwich as a "harmony of fire-grilled and sweet BBQ flavor" that comes with "two 100% beef burger patties layered side by side on a toasted hoagie bun and topped with American cheese, onion rings and BBQ sauce." The company will price it like its other new sandwiches, such as the Big King, Chicken Big King, and Big Fish sandwiches. I'm noticing a "big" pattern.

Foolish final thoughts
If you walk into most Burger King or McDonald's restaurants and just watch people for a while, you'll probably notice something interesting. Most people don't even finish their meals and throw away decent chunks of them. Bigger isn't just about more food. It's about the perception of a better value. A better deal. Times are tough, the economy is tough, and people want to feel like they're getting the most for their dollar.

McDonald's has the right idea with its "Extra Value Meal" and its "Dollar and More" menu, but you have to figure that people are kind of immune to just the words at this point. The feeling of "value" often comes through feeling what you actually get even if you don't finish it all. It allows you to "Be Your Way," without shame.

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if same-store sales continue to improve for Burger King from here. If I were a betting woman, I would bet you will see just that in the quarters ahead.

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Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 9:47 AM, None123 wrote:

    McDonalds is not the McDonalds that they used to be. They Pre-Make everything. Nothing is fresh anymore. Meat is pre-cooked and stowed in a Plastic tub similar to your crisper drawer. They Microwave each piece and then slap it together. I find it hard to believe they are that busy where they cannot produce a quality product any longer.

    Boycott McDonalds.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 11:20 AM, Burstedbladder wrote:

    I don't eat at any of these fast food places. Nothing is fresh or healthy, and I am capable of cooking my own meals at home.

    No need to support all this unhealthy, garbage food.

    Learn to cook people.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 11:24 AM, rcotner1207 wrote:

    Any Burger King I've ever been to sucks, so this is hard to believe. Employees are rude and food is always cold.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 11:46 AM, JohanStrauss wrote:

    The last time I had a BK Whopper was (best guess) about 6 years ago. Before that, it was back in the early '90s. Both times, the burger was *crap*. Oh, and busted gut, I can probably cook circles around you. But there are times when cooking your own isn't feasible (look it up). So stop being a pretentious twit.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 5:20 PM, peep1000 wrote:

    I get tired of people eating fast food, then complaining that it's responsible for making them and their kids fat. Then you've got the fast food companies catering to these people by cutting out fat stuff and forcing "healthy" stuff on us. I eat fast food every day for lunch - for example, a double cheeseburger and medium fries at mcdonalds, but don't gain weight because I ride my bike to and from work every day.

    You can't eat ANYTHING and not exercising and expect to not gain weight.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 7:12 PM, statusQuo wrote:

    That's not a microwave oven. McD uses Convectional ovens. Hospitals use microwave ovens.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 7:14 PM, statusQuo wrote:

    Health food is like Warez food.

  • Report this Comment On June 08, 2014, at 8:12 PM, GeaugaTruck wrote:

    McDonalds lost me with their "Dollar and More" menu. They used to have some decent values on the "Dollar" menu, but at a higher price, the "value" just isn't there.

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Nickey Friedman

Nickey is a select freelancer for the Fool. She writes about food & beverage, dry bulk shipping, and whatever else floats her boat. After selling four successful restaurants, she turned in her knives for a pen and now puts her passion for food, hospitality, and transportation in writing. You can send email to her at

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