Burger King Worldwide (UNKNOWN:BKW.DL) 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.
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.
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.
Nickey Friedman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Burger King Worldwide and McDonald's. 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.