Burger King Boasts Breakfast Menu

Burger King is looking to take a bigger bite out of the breakfast category with a new ad campaign targeting early risers.

A 60-second spot, introducing the tagline, “Burger King for breakfast? Yes, there’s such a thing!” begins this Sunday, and shows an assembly of consumers marching to the chant. It opens with one worker announcing that he’s going to “go to Burger King” as soon as his alarm hits 7 a.m. As he makes his way to the fast feeder, people from all walks of life join the man, including a businessman, mailman, flutist, jogger and even a parachutist.

BK, which is in the midst of being acquired by investment firm 3G Capital, is launching the breakfast ad onslaught in hopes of snagging market share from McDonald’s—and other rivals—that currently dominate the breakfast fast-food category. Compared to McDonald’s, BK currently has very low awareness in the breakfast segment, but it sees an opportunity for growth, said Leo Leon, BK’s vp of marketing impact.

Part of the challenge lies in the name. “Burger King has breakfast? Don’t they just do burgers?” Leon said of a common consumer perception. The other factor is BK’s lack of extensive marketing behind its breakfast menu in recent years, he added.

All that is about to change. Starting next week, the chain will launch five additional spots—running over an 11-week cycle—that introduce consumers to each of its nine new breakfast menu items. The spokespeople in the ads are the characters from the initial spot.

“Everyone who joins the march has a story about why or how they [joined] it,” said Leon. He said the upcoming ads center on why each character “fell in love” with certain BK breakfast foods. For example, the flutist will pitch the Breakfast Bowl; the mailman will tout the Ultimate Breakfast Platter; and the jogger will talk about his love for its new Mini Blueberry Biscuits.

In addition to TV spots, BK is debuting network radio, digital and print ads, as well as regional outdoor ads, coupons and Hispanic ads. Crispin, Porter + Bogusky is the brand’s lead agency that created the campaign. LatinWorks handled multicultural advertising duties. Mindshare is the media planning firm.

BK did not disclose spending on the campaign, but according to Leon, it is “by far the greatest and most comprehensive in recent memory.” The chain spent $286 million on advertising in 2009, and $133 million through the first six months of this year, per the Nielsen Co. (The data excludes online spending.)

Though McDonald’s dominates the fast food breakfast category, there is currently a huge gap between where BK and the rest of its competitors stand. Leon said the chain has focused on growing its value and premium menu offerings in recent years, and now the time is right for a new strategy. “The next area of opportunity is breakfast,” he said.

BK has approximately 7,250 units in the U.S., compared to 14,000 for McDonald’s, and 23,000 for Subway, said Ron Paul, president of Technomic, a research firm that tracks the fast food industry. “Then add in the operational and marketing issues and you can see it won’t be easy to take much share,” said Paul. “BK faces a serious challenge just in terms of convenience.”

Leon, however, is optimistic. He said: “We feel it’s one giant [area of] opportunity, and we’re going to focus on it this year.”