Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hail to the King, Baby

This week, perennial fast food bridesmaid Burger King will be launching a new marketing and advertising campaign designed to promote its healthier kids menu items (mostly consisting of KD and apple slices) -- and what better way to appeal to kids and their parents than through cartoony mascots?

The television ads for this campaign will introduce a new character to the BK pantheon -- Little King, presumably The King's son (I guess Petit Prince was already taken).

In my opinion, this is a very interesting decision by Burger King. Sure, The King character is interesting (in a funny/creepy/sinister stalker sort of way), but the entire vibe of The King commercials doesn't strike me as the "grab the kids and go to BK" type (this is especially evident given The King's popularity as an Internet meme). Will a Mini-Me version of The King really entice kids to eat apple slices at Burger King?

The better question is -- didn't the entire fast food industry kick the family mascot concept to the curb years ago?

Seriously, when was the last time Birdie, Grimace, Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, the Fry Guys, the McNugget Buddies, and the rest of the McDonaldland gang were on TV? Or what about the A&W bear (whatever his name is)?

That's why it seems odd to me that BK has not only continued to use The King these past few years, but has also decided to expand its mascot family. Is a Mrs. King around the corner? How about Grandpa King?

Honestly, I'm not sure if I see this working out well for Burger King -- I just don't think the same marketing tactics that work for one audience will quite translate well onto another.

Sure, The King and BK's previous campaigns, such as the awesome Subservient Chicken and Coq Roq websites and viral marketing campaigns, were massively popular with teens and students and gained a cult following on the Internet.

But will this style of campaign attract parents and make them say, "Gee, maybe I'll buy some BK apple slices for Billy"? Will it sparkle with childhood-robbed kids who want nothing to do with cartoon character spokesmen? McDonald's wants nothing to do with that game anymore ... do they know something Burger King doesn't?

We'll see what happens. Until then, I'll be having a hot and juicy Baconator (because Dave Thomas told me to).