BK’s Blum to Shops: Have It My Way

Brad Blum wants to get Burger King out of the fast-food category’s price-discounting rut and restore continuity to the chain’s advertising. And he’s looking all over for ideas.

Nonroster shops Young & Rubicam (owned by WPP Group) and Grey Global Group, which owns Grey Worldwide, met with BK’s new CEO at the $350 million advertiser’s Miami headquarters this month, sources said. Y&R has another meeting today in Miami, sources said. In recent weeks, Blum has met with Interpublic Group roster shops MediaFirst International (media buying), Campbell Mithun (kids marketing), Deutsch (field marketing, value menu), independent Amoeba (whose head, Len Fink, is BK’s overall creative chief) and multicultural shops Bromley (part-owned by Publicis Groupe) and Uniworld (part-owned by WPP).

In addition to ideas focusing on BK’s grilled-food positioning, Blum wants a uniform “look and feel” for a new campaign, rather than the kind of promotional one-offs BK has been producing for the past 18 months, one executive said. Sources described the meetings as “fluid” and “not concrete,” with no timetable given for a new campaign.

Y&R was represented by new worldwide creative director Michael Patti and worldwide CEO Mike Dolan; Grey Global Group by chief creative officer Steve Novick, sources said. Blum joined BK in January from Darden’s Olive Garden Restaurants. Grey has handled the $160 million Olive Garden account for eight years and created the “When you’re here, you’re family” campaign, which Blum has been praising to the agencies, sources said. However, Grey has a direct conflict with BK: the $35-40 million Dairy Queen account.

Y&R has been out of fast food since it lost KFC in 2000. Y&R officials are said to know a top executive at Texas Pacific Group, which led the consortium that bought BK from Diageo last year.

Y&R and Grey declined comment. Blum and other BK execs were unavailable. —with Andrew McMains