Burger King reports ‘early positive impacts’ from $150m marcomms boost

Burger King’s plan to fuel US sales growth with increased spend on advertising to improve brand perceptions is paying off, the business claims, as it reports a 5% uplift over its fourth quarter.

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Burger King’s US business claims to have seen “very good” early results from its recently launched ‘Reclaim the Flame’ plan, which includes investment of $150m (£123.3m) in advertising and digital over the next two years.

Parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI) unveiled the new strategy in September last year, hoping to accelerate sales growth after falling behind rivals McDonald’s and Wendy’s. The increased advertising spend, designed to “fuel the flame” and improve brand perceptions with more “engaging and relevant” ads, includes an annual increase of approximately 30% to Burger King’s media purchasing budget in the market.

So far the business has invested $9m (£7.4m), with a focus on brand communications to “reintroduce” customers to historical brand anchors, like the Whopper burger, flame grilled meat and the classic ‘Have it Your Way’ tagline.

Speaking on a call with investors yesterday (14 February), executive chair of RBI Patrick Doyle said the business is seeing “early positive impacts” from its investments behind the Reclaim the Flame plan.

We’ve already seen early indications of success from this campaign, including sequential improvements in brand health metrics like top preference.

Joshua Kobza, Restaurant Brands International

In the US, Burger King’s same store value sales grew 2.2% over the year to December 31 and 5% in the fourth quarter alone. Incoming RBI CEO Joshua Kobza claimed the business has also improved its share of voice and customer satisfaction.

In October the brand repositioned in the US with the tagline ‘You Rule’, playing on the chain’s royal mascot and iconic cardboard crowns to convey the idea that all Burger King customers are like royalty in its restaurants. The campaign brought back the Have it Your Way messaging first made famous in the 1970s.

“This is a truly iconic campaign highlighting one of our strongest brand equities… We’ve already seen early indications of success from this campaign, including sequential improvements in brand health metrics like top preference during the fourth quarter,” Kobza said.

“We are excited by the momentum in the business. I think we’re getting a lot of things right… The early results are certainly very good.”Burger King claims refocused marketing effort is ‘resonating’ with consumers

The QSR chain reported ‘rest of the world’ comparable value sales growth of 15.9% for the year and 11% for the quarter, amounting to global growth of 9.7% and 8.4%, respectively. The UK recorded double digit comparable sales growth versus 2019.

Overall, Burger King experienced system-wide sales value growth of 14.3% in the year to $25.5bn (£20.9bn), up 11.8% in the fourth quarter alone to $6.6bn (£5.4bn).

The Reclaim the Flame plan also includes a $30m investment through 2024 to improve the Burger King app, including enhancing the Royal Perks loyalty program. Approximately $250m will be invested in restaurant enhancements and remodels.

The news comes a year and a half after former-CEO Jose Cil admitted Burger King’s marketing had been diluted by “spreading [itself] too thin across too many messages with mixed results”. The business subsequently pledged to better test its marketing and advertising initiatives to ensure “more impactful” work.