When you think of Burger King, do you think of cheap, greasy, fast food? Burger King hopes to change that perception with the new BK Whopper Bar where the tagline, “have it your way,” is being taken to a whole new level.
The first of what will become a chain of BK Whopper Bars opened at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida this month (check out the pictures from the Orlando Sentinel theme park blog here). According to the press release, the new bars are intended to take the “fast food” brand image out and replace it with a more gourmet appeal:
“Elevating the HAVE IT YOUR WAY® brand promise to new heights, the WHOPPER™ Bar restaurant embodies the power of personal choice by offering guests a customizable, premium and indulgent WHOPPER®-based menu.”
But wait, there is more to this brand re-definition than just dressing up the interior ambiance of a traditional Burger King location. Here is more from the press release:
“Sandwiches are built to order by an expert “WHOPPER®-ista” from the WHOPPER® Topper, a visible toppings theater that allows guests to choose from favorites like A.1.® Thick & Hearty steak sauce, smoked bacon, Angry onions and guacamole.
“Capitalizing on America’s favorite burger, the WHOPPER™ Bar is a completely new, enhanced spin-off concept of the traditional restaurant with a crisp, modern, bar-like look and feel that utilizes the WHOPPER® sandwich’s flame-broiling as inspiration. Crew uniforms will be transformed, emphasizing the red, black and gray color scheme of the bar setting, and boast a more contemporary cut that matches the look and feel of this bold new approach. Even the product packaging is all new. The sandwich will be served in an upgraded, carton-like box – a necessity when it comes to holding as many additional toppings as guests wish to add.”
But the new twist on the Burger King brand doesn’t stop with an attempt at creating a higher-end restaurant. There’s also merchandise! From the press release:
WHOPPER® fans looking to take home a piece of the WHOPPER™ Bar can also pay a visit to the highly-engaging BURGER KING Studio kiosk. There, guests can create customized t-shirts using original designs by young, cutting-edge artists who were inspired by the BURGER KING® brand and have them printed on-site.
“Part art gallery, part creative laboratory, BURGER KING Studio first hit the underground scene in Chicago last fall. The outpost at Universal CityWalk® marks the next stage of the concept, which Burger King Corp. makes available via an interactive Web site, www.burgerkingstudio.com. Whether on-site or online, BURGER KING Studio encourages free-flowing creativity, ongoing dialogue with artists, and embodies the ultimate expression of the HAVE IT YOUR WAY® philosophy with an urban edge. The vision for BURGER KING Studio includes satellite and live installation events aimed at building local affinity for the streetwise gear and a robust line of wearables and lifestyle gear. The company plans to feature these designs in urban boutiques and niche stores.
So what do you think? Sounds like an attempt to copy McDonald’s not so successful Bistro brand redefinition initiatives from a couple of years ago. While not a failure, that program certainly wasn’t as successful as McDonald’s had hoped. What makes Burger King’s attempt different? McDonald’s has also been launching locations that have more of a Starbucks-feel (not unlike Burger King’s new “Whopper-istas”) complete with tables for business meetings. So far, the only people I’ve seen at my local McDonald’s sitting at those tables and having a meeting have been McDonald’s employees.
Burger King plans to roll out BK Whopper Bars around the world (there is one coming to Munich, Germany soon). Do you think they’ll be a success? Can Burger King redefine its brand image through BK Whopper Bars and Burger King Studios? Or does it take a lot more than an exterior facelift to redefine a brand? I vote for the latter.
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