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QSR Interview | By Blair Chancey

King, Meet the World

You mentioned the idea of making local changes to menu items abroad. Can you give me an example?

I think that we have a good handle on how we want to be provocative without being offensive.”

You know, probably the best success story we’ve got is Latin America. [It is] one of our strongest regions and, frankly, one of our trailblazers when it comes to new product marketing. They will test many things for us in advance of even the U.S., and they have had several localized flavors that we have or will pick up here in the U.S. A good example is a mini-burger. That’s something we’re paying attention to very closely here domestically, as well as for the rest of the world. Right now they’re in all of Puerto Rico and doing quite well.

The King, as a character here in the United States, has been extremely popular. How is that resonating internationally?

Our advertising agency … is doing quite a bit of our creative, and they continue to know who the Burger King is, what the Burger King voice is (which we call our “Cool Uncle” voice)—a voice that’s somebody you trust and tells it like it is; somebody that’s a bit cool; or somebody you really want to know and understand. They hire local creatives and local talent to make sure the translation is appropriate and resonates in those local countries.

Is it a concern of the company that there might be some inconsistencies or potentially offenses in any marketing campaigns?

No, I think we have a good handle on how to be provocative without being offensive. [Crispin Porter + Bogusky] totally understands that, and makes sure that that philosophy is translated through that local voice.

BK has a branded video game for mobile phones. Are international markets receptive to those types of campaigns?

We will explore any type of alignment behind great promotions. A good example would be an upcoming movie property where we are looking at aligning not only behind the movie property, but [also introducing] one Whopper LTO sandwich that would be served across the globe and tie into this movie property.

Speaking of a menu item offered across the globe, what is the best-selling Burger King menu item in the world?

That would be the Whopper.

Does that differ by market, or is everybody consistently enjoying the Whopper?

What makes the Whopper great is that you can have the Whoppers your way.

So, customization adds strength to your product globally?

Absolutely. Our core brand promise is a great-tasting, high-quality, flame-grilled meal that you can have your way, and we really are taking “have it your way” beyond just hold the pickles and hold the lettuce. We like consumers to be able to size it their way [and] pay for it their way, so it truly is the true essence of our brand, and it’s really in our DNA.

Is BK’s coffee line seeing success abroad?

What BK Joe has done for us and why we really are behind this program is it provides our customers a truly consistent cup of coffee regardless of the time of day, regardless of what location you go to. I can’t say all of our competition could make that same promise. … And we recently we’ve extended BK Joe* into an iced coffee version, our Mocha BK Joe line. Right now that’s only in the U.S., but we’re out concept-testing that among some of our global consumers and markets, as well. We are very pleased with the performance of that Mocha BK Joe iced coffee line.

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