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Burger King Lights a Flame

By Rich Duprey - Updated Apr 5, 2017 at 6:55PM

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The burger joint unveils a burger-scented cologne for all of us meat-eaters.

One of my first jobs ever was as a Burger King (NYSE:BKC) fryer jockey, and I could never shower quick enough after my shift to remove the smell of grease and burgers from my body. Apparently, I was missing quite an opportunity to be a real Don Juan with the ladies.

Targeted toward every red-blooded, meat-eating connoisseur, the burgermeister is unveiling a new burger-scented men's body spray called "Flame." Who knew the smell of red meat could be seductive? It's hard to imagine "real man" actor James Garner, who once hawked steaks for the beef industry, dabbing a little bit of burger juice behind his ears, but then again, sexy siren Cybill Shepherd appeared in those commercials, too. Maybe a slab of beef does attract the opposite sex.

It's another instance in a curious line of marketing decisions by Burger King, one which follows on the heels of a taste test with "Whopper virgins," a campaign where individuals who supposedly have never tasted one of its cardiac event-inducing burgers compare it to the Big Mac from McDonald's (NYSE:MCD).

Those ads are generating a lot of controversy for introducing a high-fat food into the diets of people who have luckily been walled off from them previously. While Burger King defends how it went about the project, it seems reminiscent of the recently yanked Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) ad for Motrin that many women felt was insensitive to the pain they feel each month.

It's not the first time retailers have wanted to become a smell-monger. A few years ago, Gap (NYSE:GPS) unveiled a line for its Banana Republic division, and ski-and-skate clothing retailer Quiksilver (NYSE:ZQK) offered its own brand. Let's also not forget the NASCAR-inspired scent. Apparently the smell of sweat and oil is also seductive.

As weird as it might seem, though, there's really little downside risk for Burger King. Companies often lend their names to manufacturers to reap royalties for relatively minimal costs. And the industry seems like quite a winner; Inter Parfums (NASDAQ:IPAR) -- the fragrance maker behind Gap, Banana Republic, and New York & Co. (NYSE:NWY) perfumes -- has grown its top line at a 20% compounded rate over the past five years and its bottom line by 15%. It carries all the weight on product development, formulation, packaging, and manufacture, while the store is responsible for marketing and sales.

Yet, Burger King's effort seems little more than a PR gambit, and I don't imagine that slathering on some "Flame" will result in ladies following me home. Rather, I expect I'd actually resemble the Pied Piper, trailing home the neighborhood dogs.

Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. Gap is a Motley Fool Inside Value and a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

McDonald's Corporation Stock Quote
McDonald's Corporation
$259.28 (-0.80%) $-2.08
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
$167.14 (-2.07%) $-3.53
The Gap, Inc. Stock Quote
The Gap, Inc.
$10.38 (5.49%) $0.54
Inter Parfums, Inc. Stock Quote
Inter Parfums, Inc.
$81.25 (0.14%) $0.11
New York & Company, Inc. Stock Quote
New York & Company, Inc.

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