Burger King taps new agencies after year of marketing tumult

    • Restaurant Brands International (RBI) announced that Omnicom Media Group’s PHD will serve as media agency of record for Burger King U.S., Popeyes U.S. and Canada, and Tim Hortons U.S., per a press release. Chicago shop OKRP will serve as creative agency of record for Burger King U.S.
    • OKRP seeks to help Burger King as it looks to drive relevancy and authenticity in culture and reclaim its status as an iconic brand while also achieving business objectives. On the media side, the partnership with PHD will allow RBI’s portfolio of brands to leverage scale and maximize purchasing power, while each brand maintains a separate vertical in the arrangement, per the release.
    • For Burger King U.S., OKRP and PHD replace agencies David and Horizon, respectively. The new appointments are the result of a creative and media review that was announced in February and follow a raft of marketing executive departures across RBI’s portfolio.

    With its creative and media appointment, Restaurant Brands International caps off a yearlong marketing shakeup that began when its global marketing head and longtime Burger King executive Fernando Machado left the company for Activision Blizzard in April 2021. It is also the latest in an industry-wide line of account reviews that have shifted billions of dollars in business, often to the benefit of agency holding groups.

    Omnicom’s PHD will serve as media AOR for Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons in several countries, giving the RBI portfolio scale and purchasing power while accelerating a data-driven, omnichannel planning approach for each brand, per the release. Agency holding companies have done well in the latest round of account reviews, with major marketers like Coca-Cola, Unilever and AB InBev looking to large companies for their scale, experience and reach.

    The selection of independent Chicago shop OKRP as creative AOR for Burger King U.S. is a move in the other direction. OKRP boasts experience in the restaurant space, chiefly with Chili’s, and will be responsible for helping Burger King reintroduce and reestablish its brand, with a focus on relevancy and authenticity in culture — an imperative throughout marketing, especially in the QSR space — as the company seeks to modernize the “Home of the Whopper.”

    “To further our effective messaging strategy, we are locking arms with veterans of this industry who heard us loud and clear when we asked for strategic business partners equipped with the speed, data, insights, creativity and innovation to help us drive growth,” Tom Curtis, president of Burger King North America, said in the press release.

    OKRP takes over for WPP-owned David after an eight-year run that was notable for countless buzz-worthy, award-winning campaigns but saw the chain fall further behind rival McDonald’s and challengers like Wendy’s and Chick-fil-A. Along with its memorable “Moldy Whopper” effort, David was responsible for a recent “Even More Confusing Times” campaign in support of the chain’s plant-based nuggets.

    PHD will replace Horizon as Burger King’s media AOR in the U.S. but will continue with the brand in Canada. PHD will also replace Horizon for Popeyes and Tim Hortons U.S. Popeyes and Tim Hortons Canada will retain Gut as creative AOR, while the latter will keep Horizon on for traditional media and Media.Monks for digital media.

    While RBI’s latest earnings topped analysts’ expectations, same-store sales growth for Burger King U.S. was just 1.8% and Popeyes reported same-store sales declines. The company saw global digital sales increase from $6 billion in 2020 to $10 billion in 2021, but digital orders lagged in home markets for Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons.


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