How Burger King Is Attacking Their Relevance Problem

For brands that have fallen out of favor, one solution isn’t enough. This four-step plan is paying off.

For over a decade, Burger King has experienced mismanagement of relevance challenges by a series of “new” owners. Menus were not suitable for large, important segments such as women, families and the health-conscious. At one point it was all about the young male and their burgers, but even this group was attracted to new fries/burgers/shakes concepts with attractive personalities and/or local connections. The experience was inconsistent and at times disappointing. The advertising and the “King” symbol were ineffective and even strange even to the young male. For many in the broad market that needed to be served, Burger King was simply irrelevant.

“For many in the broad market that needed to be served, Burger King was simply irrelevant.”

As recounted by Jordan Melnick in QSR CEO Steve Wilborg, who was hired in 2010, may have finally gotten it right. In April of 2012, Burger King announced a four-prong initiative to make the brand relevant to more than the young male burger crowd. In particular, they…

  1. Expanded their menu to include “Garden Fresh” salads, mango smoothies, chicken wraps, crispy chicken strips and mocha frappes among other new offerings, thereby broadening the potential customer base.
  2. Improved the consistency of the experience by turning the franchisees into partners rather than the adversaries they had become. In particular, Burger King set up a restaurant council, a marketing council and a people council consisting of franchisee and company representatives.
  3. Developed a new marketing program under the tag “Exciting things are happening at Burger King” that included a set of “A-list” celebrities to help communicate the new Burger King with humor that resonated with the broader target market.
  4. Allocated funds to location renovation with a new look and feel that included digital menu-boards, new uniforms and fresh packaging.


The effort to dig itself out of a relevance hole looks promising. It addresses the major relevance issues —understanding who is the target segment and their changing tastes, making sure the offering is what they are looking to buy, communicating in a way that fosters relationships, and adding energy through innovation. Other established brands that face similar relevance challenges could learn from Burger King’s efforts.