King of Bad Timing

Things are not always what they appear; especially in the marketing world.  Marketing Poobahs are starti061010_burgerking_hmed_11a.hmediumng to take Burger King to task for their latest advertising campaign featuring the creepy “Bobble-Head King” engaging in various tricks, stunts and pranks; most only tangentially associated with the quality of their burgers. The end result of millions spent on this “too-clever-by-half” campaign is that Burger King continues to lose market share to McDonald’s, the one true king of burgers.

On the surface, it is easy to make the connection: Lousy advertising, lousy results. This quick and easy assesment is used by many to excuse their boring and conventional advertising – after all, it is much easier (and usually cheaper) to continue down the conventional road, better safe than sorry.

However, as is pointed out in this linked article from Fast Company, the real reasons for Burger King’s losses to McDonald’s may have nothing to do with their advertsing and may have everything to do with the economic downturn and demographics. Simply stated, Burger King had a good idea for targeting a specific (profitable) demographic and they got caught short by circumstance. A workable analogy to this situation is: Burger King picked a good horse, picked a good jockey and thought they were in the right race. Only problem is when it began to rain, they found out the horse just couldn’t run under those conditions.

Is there a lesson here? Perhaps the lesson is that no matter how well you plan, how well you construct your message or how well you implement your campaign; shit happens. That doesn’t mean you don’t try to be as clever and creative as possible. All things being equal, in the marketplace of ideas, creative will kick the crap out of conventional every time.

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