United States[edit] Edit

Pillsbury acquired the Burger King business in 1967, and a year later, BBDO were signed on as the company's advertising agency. The relationship continued until July 1976.[3] From 1974, Burger King ran a series of much-lampooned but successful television commercials in which employees sing: "Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce. Special orders don't upset us. All we ask is that you let us serve it your way!" This advertising strategy aimed to contrast Burger King's flexibility with McDonald's famous rigidity. This theme has been reiterated in subsequent advertising campaigns. BBDO were believed to have been dropped because of their inability to originate a successful new campaign following their "Have It Your Way" campaign.[3]

Burger King's first successful cross-promotional campaign was in 1977. It offered several collectible items, such as posters, glasses and sticker sets that featured scenes and characters from Star Wars.[4] The promotional glasses have become collectors' items.[5][6] The Star Wars tie-in continued with the remainder of the first Star Wars trilogy and the DVD release of both trilogies. During the 1984 television premiere of Star Wars, Burger King commercials were featured prominently.

In 1982, Burger King's television advertising campaign featured Sarah Michelle Gellar, then aged 4. In the advertisements, Gellar said that McDonald's burgers were 20% smaller than Burger King's. It was arguably the first attack on a food chain by a competitor. The campaign was controversial because prior to it, fast food advertisements only made vague allusions to the competition and never mentioned the name. McDonald's sued and the suit was settled the following year on undisclosed terms.

In November 1985, Burger King spent $40 million on the Where's Herb? advertising campaign. The campaign's premise was that Herb was the only man in America who had never eaten a Whopper. If a customer recognized him in any store, he or she would win US$5,000. The advertisements did not reveal Herb's appearance until the company's Super Bowl XX commercial, where Herb was revealed to be a bespectacled man in an ill-fitting suit. Herb toured stores across the country, appeared on The Today Show, and served as a guest timekeeper during WrestleMania 2. The campaign had little impact on sales and was quickly dropped. According to Advertising Age magazine, the Herb campaign was the "most elaborate advertising flop of the decade."[7][8][9] Burger King's other 1980s advertising campaigns, such as "This is a Burger King town", "Fast food for fast times", and "We do it like you'd do it" were barely more successful.

The iconic Burger King "crown", worn byNick Van Eede.

In the early 1990s, Burger King advertised its new dinner offering – dinner baskets and table service – with the "BK Tee Vee" (or "BKTV") campaign, which used the taglines "BK Tee Vee... I Love this Place!" and "Your Way Right Away!", and featured Dan Cortese as "Dan: The Whopper Man." Burger King's lack of a successful advertising campaign continued during the 1980s and 1990s.

In September 2002, Burger King introduced its 99¢ Value Menu in response to Wendy's 99¢ Value Menu. The advertisements featured the comedian Adam Carolla as the voice of BK's drive thru. The menu was later renamed the BK Value Menu with prices starting at US$1.[10]

Shortly after the acquisition of Burger King by TPG Capital in 2002, its new CEO Bradley (Brad) Blum set about reversing the fortunes of the company's advertising programs. The company reinstated its famous Have it your way motto and engaged Miami-based advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B), which was known for having a hip, subversive tack when creating campaigns for its clients.[11][12] CP+B updated Burger King's image and changed its marketing strategy. The cups, bags and the company logo were redesigned with the intent to give and BK an appealing, culturally aware and modern image. Humorous statements, claims and product descriptions were printed on bags, product packaging and on in-store promotional materials, including a Burger King Bill of Rights, using the slogan Have it Your Way. CP+B created an advertising campaign that focused on television spots, print, web and product tie-ins.[11][13]

CP+B reinstated the Burger King character used in the 1970s and 1980s for the Burger King Kingdom advertising campaign. The character was redesigned as a caricature of the original, now simply called the Burger King or just the King. The new incarnation replaced the singing and dancing Magical Burger King with a miming actor who wore an oversized, grinning plastic mask resembling the original actor who played King. Employing the practice of viral marketing, CP+B's advertisements generated significant word of mouth and a new use of what has become known as the Creepy King persona, an appellation that CP+B used in later advertisements.[11] In April 2009, a CP+B advertisement for Burger King's "Texican burger" was removed from television because it caused an international uproar over insults to Mexico.[14][15]

After purchasing the company in 2010, 3G Capital ended Burger King's relationship with CP+B and engaged the services of McGarryBowen. In August 2011, McGarryBowen produced its first Burger King campaign, which was for the California Whopper sandwich. The advertisements were the first in a campaign that de-emphasized the King and focused on ingredients and preparation methods.[16]