Make us your home page
Instagram

Burger King's new menu mimics rival McDonald's

MIAMI — Burger King is trying to revive its ailing empire with a rival's recipe for success.

After years of lackluster sales of its Whoppers and fries, the struggling fast-food giant on Monday launched 10 food items in its biggest menu expansion since the chain was started in 1954.

But there are unmistakable similarities between Burger King's new lineup and the offerings its much-bigger rival has rolled out in recent years. The Golden Arches already rolled out specialty salads in 2003, snack wraps in 2006, premium coffee drinks in 2009, and fruit smoothies in 2010.

Burger King doesn't deny that its new chicken strips, caramel frappe coffees, Caesar salads and strawberry-banana smoothies sound pretty close to those on McDonald's popular menu. But executives say the company came up with them through its research.

"Consumers wanted more choices," said Steve Wiborg, president of Burger King's North America operations. "Not just healthy choices, but choices they could get at the competition."

The menu additions are part of Burger King's plan to abandon its nearly single-minded courtship of young men, who were once the lifeblood of the industry but were hard hit by the economic downturn. Competitors went after new customers with breakfast items and healthier fare, but Burger King let its menu get stale. As a result, Burger King for the first time was edged out by Wendy's last year as the nation's No. 2 burger chain.

To stem the decline, Burger King executives last year decided to modernize the 7,200-restaurant chain's aging stores, redesign worker uniforms with aprons so they stay clean and even serve the iconic Whopper in cardboard cartons instead of paper wrapping for the first time in more than 20 years. Food, however, is at the heart of their plan.

The revamp is nevertheless a gamble. Burger King's new food could be a flop, and of course, the chain is already late to the party.

"Being an innovator is critical in the fast-food industry," said Darren Tristano, an analyst for the food industry researcher Technomic.

But food isn't Burger King's only problem. Many of its restaurants are showing signs of aging. So the company decided it wanted to give them a more modern look that mixes leather armchairs, high stools and plastic chairs in warmer lighting. High partitions will create more privacy in some seating areas. The makeover costs an average of more than $275,000 per restaurant.

That presents another challenge: getting buy-in from franchisees, who own 90 percent of the chain's U.S. stores. So the company is offering those who sign up for the remodeling incentives, such as a 50 percent discount on the annual $50,000 franchise fee.

So far, more than 1,000 franchise locations are slated to be updated in the next year. Over the next three years, 2,500 will be remodeled.

To get the word out about the changes, Burger King is rolling out its biggest marketing campaign ever. TV ads will feature celebrities, including soccer player David Beckham, comedian Jay Leno and actor Salma Hayek. In one spot, R&B singer Mary J. Blige croons the ingredients of the snack wraps.

Burger King's new menu mimics rival McDonald's 04/02/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 2, 2012 10:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump shuts down CEO advisory councils as main group acts to disband

    Business

    President Donald Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded on Wednesday following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. Soon after, the president announced on Twitter that he would end his executive councils, "rather than …

    President Donald Trump meets with Merck's chief executive, Kenneth Frazier, second from left, and other leaders of the pharmaceutical industry in the Roosevelt Room of the White House last January. On Wednesday, Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them.
[New York Times file photo]
  2. A long-awaited vision for Tampa's Westshore Marina District

    Real Estate

    TAMPA —Eleven years after plans to develop a waterfront tract on the Tampa side of the Gandy Bridge were first announced, a new rendering gives a hint of what Westshore Marina District ultimately will look like.

    Rendering of Marina Pointe, a condo project overlooking Tampa Bay as part of the Westshore Marina District. [Courtesy of Masterfile Corp.}
  3. Buddy Brew Coffee to open downtown Tampa location

    Business

    TAMPA — Buddy Brew Coffee plans to open a new location in downtown Tampa at Park Tower in early 2018. The specialty coffee craft roaster, which was founded in 2010, has five other locations throughout Tampa including the Oxford Exchange, Sarasota, Hyde Park Village and Terminal F inside the Tampa International …

    A cappuccino is displayed at Buddy Brew in Tampa in January 2017. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  4. Where to pig out for National Bacon Lovers Day

    Food & Dining

    That's right: Sunday is the national day devoted to all things bacon, National Bacon Lovers Day. Which, really, isn't too different from the other 364 days of the year. But here's a little roundup of some special places to celebrate everyone's favorite meat snack (seriously, even vegans have a grudging respect …

    A creme-filled doughnut topped with maple frosting and bacon at Dough on MacDill Avenue in Tampa.
  5. The Penny Hoarder tops 79 fastest growing Tampa Bay companies on Inc. 5000

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Penny Hoarder on Wednesday further cemented its reputation as one of the country's fastest growing companies. The personal finance web site business ranks 25th nationwide and tops in the Tampa Bay market for growth on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing businesses.

    Vishal Mahtani (left), vice president of business development, Alexis Grant (center), executive editor, and Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, celebrate the news with their staff  Wednesday of making the new Inc. 5000 ranking of fastest growing companies in the country. They enjoyed champagne during a catered lunch at their office in downtown St. Petersburg after ranking 25th nationwide and tops in the Tampa Bay market for growth on the just released 2017 Inc. 5000. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times ]