Burger King BK vector logo
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About Burger King BK
Burger King, often abbreviated as BK, is a global chain of hamburger fast food restaurants headquartered in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. The company began in 1953 as Insta-Burger King, a Jacksonville, Florida-based restaurant chain. After Insta-Burger King ran into financial difficulties in 1954, its two Miami-based franchisees, David Edgerton and James McLamore, purchased the company and renamed it Burger King. Over the next half century, the company would change hands four times, with its third set of owners, a partnership of TPG Capital, Bain Capital, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, taking it public in 2002. In late 2010, 3G Capital of Brazil acquired a majority stake in BK in a deal valued at US$3.26 billion. The new owners promptly initiated a restructuring of the company to reverse its fortunes.
At the end of fiscal year 2012, Burger King reported it had almost 12,700 outlets in 73 countries; of these, 66 percent are in the United States and 95 percent are privately owned and operated with its new owners moving to an entirely franchised model by the end of 2013. BK has historically used several variations of franchising to expand its operations. The manner in which the company licenses its franchisees varies depending on the region, with some regional franchises, known as master franchises, responsible for selling franchise sub-licenses on the company’s behalf. Burger King’s relationship with its franchises has not always been harmonious. Occasional spats between the two have caused numerous issues, and in several instances the company’s and its licensees’ relations have degenerated into precedent-setting court cases.
The Burger King menu has expanded from a basic offering of burgers, French fries, sodas, and milkshakes in 1954, to a larger, more diverse set of product offerings. In 1957, the Whopper was the first major addition to the menu; it has since become Burger King’s signature product. Conversely, BK has introduced many products which failed to catch hold in the marketplace. Some of these failures in the United States have seen success in foreign markets, where BK has also tailored its menu for regional tastes. From 2002 to 2010, Burger King aggressively targeted the 18–34 male demographic with larger products that often carried correspondingly large amounts of unhealthy fats and trans-fats. This tactic would eventually come to hurt the company’s financial underpinnings and cast a negative pall on its earnings. Beginning in 2011, the company began to move away from the previous male-oriented menu and introduce new menu items, product reformulations, and packaging as part of 3G Capital’s restructuring plans of the company.
The 1970s were the “Golden Age” of Burger King advertising, but beginning in the early 1980s, the company’s advertising began to lose focus; a series of less successful ad campaigns created by a procession of advertising agencies continued for the next two decades. In 2003, Burger King hired the Miami-based advertising agency of Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B). CP+B completely reorganized Burger King’s advertising with a series of new campaigns centered on a redesigned Burger King character accompanied with a new online presence. While highly successful, some of CP+B commercials were derided for perceived sexism or cultural insensitivity. New owner, 3G Capital, terminated the relationship with CP+B in 2011 and moved its advertising to McGarryBowen to begin a new product oriented campaign with expanded demographic targeting.