The King is back. Burger King has just released a new commercial that features the plastic-headed royal after a five-year hiatus.
In the early 2000s, Burger King hired Miami-based ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky in an attempt to attract a hipper, younger, predominantly male audience. As a result, we were introduced to the strange, slightly sinister version of the Burger King with a perma-grin that rivaled the Joker's.
Commercials depicted the King in seriously disturbing ways. In some of them, the King has pole-danced, invaded a woman's apartment à la King Kong, and woken up in bed with a guy. Crispin Porter + Bogusky also thought it was a good idea to pair the King with sexy booty-shaking girls in BK commercials for kids' meals.
In a 2009 article, the Atlantic called the mascot an "overgrown mannequin charming his way out of restraining orders" and noted that "between 2003 — the year before Burger King hired Crispin as agency of record — and 2008, Burger King's share of the burger-chain market fell to 14.2% from 15.6%, according to Technomic, while McDonald's share rose to 46.8% from 43.6%. McDonald's has posted average annual sales growth of 6.3% compared with BK's 2.9% gain during that period." Ouch.
So it's a bit of a shock that Burger King has opened the dungeon doors and allowed the King to re-emerge. In this new commercial for $1.49 chicken nuggets, the King doesn't stalk anyone. Instead, it's a straightforward and short ad for the nuggets. Even without pole dancing or sticking his head through your open window, the King still manages to creep the hell out of us, once again, with just that giant shiny face.
According to a Burger King spokesperson, the new campaign is the work of ad agency Pitch Inc. Burger King chief marketing officer Eric Hirschhorn explained the return of the mascot: “The King has been breaking status quo for decades and has earned his space in pop culture. He conveys the confident and bold spirit of the Burger King brand, which you can see comes to life in everything we do.” And although Burger King has chosen to remain mum on whether this is the beginning of a new reign for the King, it's a sure bet we'll be seeing more of this royal creep.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE...
Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times. She has been featured on Cooking Channel's Eat Street and Food Network's Great Food Truck Race. She won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature about what it's like to wait tables.