BK Taps Coltrin For Corporate PR

It won’t be a WPP marketing monopoly at Burger King after all. Shortly after shifting most of its ad business to the holding company this month, the Miami-based fast-food chain chose independent PR firm Coltrin & Associates to boost its profile with the business community.

Interpublic’s Weber Shandwick, Cambridge, Mass., was the incumbent. There was no review, and spending was not disclosed.

BK chose the New York-headquartered shop based on its corporate communications experience, said Rob Doughty, client vp of global corporate communications. The importance of communicating a corporate vision was prompted by Diageo’s sale of BK last year to a consortium of companies: Texas Pacific Group, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners.

The move follows the consolidation of most of BK’s $350 million account with WPP’s Young & Rubicam, MindShare and Wunderman. Y&R is readying a new campaign.

Coltrin, which led PR efforts for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, will be called on to promote not only BK’s food but also its management and state of business. CEO Steve Coltrin is “capable of providing both,” said Doughty, who added that the possibility of the consortium eventually floating public stock in BK is “very likely.”

Last year’s price war with McDonald’s caused BK’s sale price to drop from $2.26 billion to $1.5 billion. Carl Sibilski, equity analyst at Morningstar in Chicago, said 20 percent of BK’s franchises are on the verge of bankruptcy. “[They need] to get franchisees comfortably financed and clean up the stores and make sure service is better,” Sibilski said.

The chain wants to be seen as a place “where people want to be comfortable with everything from management to the food,” said Coltrin.