Another brand war story! On this episode Emma and Brittany discuss the “Burger King v. McDonald’s” war, and how Burger King used clever advertising to give a fast food giant a run for its money.
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Brittany: Hi, Emma.
Emma: Hi Brittany.
Brittany: So, as most of you all know by now, our listeners know I love a good brand war. in fact, I actually want to write a book on brand wars at some point because it’s the topic that just fascinates me the most because it really shows the free market in action cuz it’s not just you. You know, you can have a great product but unless you advertise it or market it, Connor and I’ve talked about this before, it’s nothing right and there. So when you have all these different similar brands or products on the market and people are literally fighting for your business, they’re fighting to please you and they’re constantly innovating, it’s just, to me it’s one of the most fascinating and wonderful spectacles on the earth. So I really love that. And we’ve talked about Coca-Cola, I think I talked about that one with you, Emma. And then Connor, I talked about the chicken sandwich war, which I’ll give you a brief just kind of summary of that cuz it’s going on right now. So it’s very exciting. it’s where Popeyes came out, the chicken sandwich and they started competing with Chick-fil-A who is like the chicken sandwich place. And I mean I love Chick-fil-A. I do love Popeyes also, but I also love Chick-Fil-A. And one thing that has happened since Con I, filmed that episode or recorded that episode is two new people came into the chicken sandwich market. So now Burger King has created theirs to come and compete with Popeye’s and K FFC is done theirs. So it’s like, again, we’re having all these options and I’m not saying it’s healthy and wendys.
Emma: Wendys, they’re all.
Brittany: They’re all in this now and again, like it may not be the healthiest thing for consumers like you. Right. But you know what, everyone deserves a delicious chicken sandwich at some point. Yes. So we’re gonna talk about something similar today and its brand, we’re very close to my heart because cheeseburgers are my favorite food. So we’re gonna talk a little bit about the burger brand war between McDonald’s and Burger King. And as I, you know, said many times, this is fast food restaurants in general, like I love them and I know that’s really bad. That’s like my guilty pleasure. I would literally, right. I would literally eat a cheeseburger every day if I was allowed to. So before we dive into this, Emma, I don’t know if you’re a fan of burgers, but what side are you on? Are you team McDonald’s? Are you Team Burger King?
Emma: Probably team McDonald’s. That was like our treat when I was growing up and we would be like coming home from swim practice or whatever, we’d be like, mom, please can we go to McDonald’s? Which is funny cuz looking back it’s like, it’s McDonald’s, it’s not amazing food. But for some reason we were obsessed and to me it just has this like nostalgic taste. Those burgers. Yeah. They just taste, they taste exactly the same way they did like however many years ago that was. So I’m to Mcdonald’s.
Brittany: McDonald’s. That’s, kind of the beauty of McDonald’s. Conrad talked about the movie The Founder and, how that’s like the story of McDonald’s is that it’s consistent, right? So McDonald’s doesn’t even have to innovate that much when it comes to their products unless something like a chicken sandwich comes on the market. because they’ve been so consistent for years. And so that’s not gonna be their edge. Meaning like how they’re gonna beat the competition. And we’ll talk about that in a minute. I’m curious though, did Joey’s get burgers or did you get like the nuggets ever?
Emma: We would always get my parents, for some reason they were like Anh Happy Meal. Unless it was like a really special occasion you didn’t get the toy. I dunno why. I think they thought that it was kind of like gimmicky. So they would, they were like most bang for your buck is the quarter pounder with cheese. So that’s what we would always get.
Brittany: That’s a big burger. Burger king.
Emma: A big burger. It has a lot of protein though. It’s like actually kinda packs a punch. So that’s, till what I like. I like that. Or maybe like a McDouble, but the buckets
Brittany: Good too. That’s so funny. So, okay, so I’m actually on the opposite side of you. I’m on Team Burger King. I think they have the better burger cause it tastes like it was barbecued. You know, their whole thing is like royal.
Emma: I do like that. Yes.
Brittany: And so I love that also. So, my grandfather, we have so like 39 grandkids and like 50-something great-grandkids, maybe 79. I can’t even keep count. So Whoppers used to be a dollar. And so my grandfather, when all the grandkids were together, we’d all carpool or somebody would go drive and get the burgers, but we would get, you know, 40 burgers for a dollar. And my grandpa felt like, he is somebody who grew up during the depression that was just like, oh yeah. The epitome of like American capitalism and my grandpa could feed all of us for that much. So, my, I have really good memories, like you said nostalgia, you know, plays a big part in this. So, but I have to say this, McDonald’s has better desserts so I always end up ordering an Oreo McFlurry like a Saturday afternoon. And so those are my favorite they’re amazing.
Emma: That’s if the ice cream machine is working and thats conversation for another day.
Brittany: Yes. and McDonald’s is for another day. infamous for having, ice cream problem. So let’s get to the actual brand war. But I actually love that we talked about that because we’re both talking about other factors into why we go to these places. and Connor and I have talked about nostalgia before and it’s interesting to me that nostalgia kind of popped up on both of ours. And one more thing I’ll add to that conversation. Burger King has onion rings and McDonald’s does not that’s another one.
Emma: Good point.
Brittany: Right. Okay. So one of the interesting things about these two companies is they started around the same time. So McDonald’s, what we now know as McDonald’s, so from the founder, that era on was 1955 and Burger King was 1954. So they’re very, very close together and you know, much like the chicken sandwich, there’s not a whole lot you can or should do with a burger, fries and shakes. Right. People generally like these things the way they are. You know, when McDonald’s came out with the mc Flury, I remember that was huge. and that was probably like 20 years ago now. So that was something they did to kind of get a leg up on the competition. But you know what it really comes down to when it comes to these two places, our advertising and maybe product packaging. Yeah. So that’s, what this brand war has really focused on. And so McDonald’s and Burger actually more Burger King has relied on advertising to beat out the competition. And again, like Emma and I had differing opinions on which food tastes the best when it came to competition in advertising the meaning like what most people think is actually. The Burger King Blue McDonald’s out of the water. And a lot of that was because of social media and because of just really good funny, marketing ads that were actually like targeted right. At McDonald’s. So one of the, yeah, the ads, and I love this one, it’s kind of creepy. There’s a clown cuz you know, McDonald’s has Ronald McDonald, right? There’s a clown looking into a Burger King and you can see Burger King on the door and the tagline, the slogan says, come as a cat clown, eat like a king.
Emma: That’s so clever. Right?
Brittany: I thought it was so clever because everybody knows who they’re making fun of, but you’ll notice and there is a clown that looks like Ronald McDonald, but they don’t have to say McDonald’s. Right. Everybody knows what they’re talking about. So it, I just thought that was genius. There was another one called Whopper Secret. It was a commercial and this was telling the story behind every Burger King poster of, a whopper and what the, like it’s supposed to be like a behind the scenes documentary and they tell, like their story is that behind every picture of a Big Mac or every Big Mac they took a picture of there’s actually a Big Mac behind it, but the Whoppers so big you can’t even see the Big Mac. And you know, consumers couldn’t even notice. And I don’t, I honestly don’t know if that’s true. If it is, that’s genius. Oh true. I dunno if it was actually true another commercial, and this was placed in a movie theater before like during the previews there was a movie called it that nobody should ever watch. It Terrifies me horrible movie. It’s horrible movie. It’s why everybody’s scared of clowns. but they made a sequel to this a couple of years ago. And again, this movie’s too scary for any of you to watch. Don’t ever do it.
Emma: It also is just a like low quality, just not worth your time.
Brittany: It’s just not worth your time. But Burger King was brilliant. I love this so much. So they used this as an opportunity to use the clown tie-in and hit McDonald’s again. So the tagline to this, this movie or this commercial they had before the movie was The Moral is Never Trust a clown. And that to me, I was like, oh my goodness. And there’s nothing McDonald’s can do about it. Right? Because like, you’re already in the theater and you’re watching that. So I loved it, I thought that was genius.
Emma: Yeah. Also, I feel like they really got in on like everyone realizing that clowns are creepy at the same time. Yes. They’re like, oh, McDonald’s, this whole thing is clowns. Let’s just jump in on that.
Brittany: Who Idea was that? Who thought like, let’s make a clown our mascot? I would like to know.
Emma: That’s when being the really old established brand might not help you as much. You know, you’ve got these old things like, oh, Ronald McDonald, and then all of a sudden everyone thinks clowns are creepy. So one of the other campaigns that I really liked of theirs was they made this app where you take a picture of a competitor’s ad, so like a McDonald’s ad and on your phone it would look like the ad was on Fire. so they had these ad campaigns and they were snarky and creative and all of that to say, you know, McDonald’s had this advantage where it has the fast inconvenient card where it is everywhere. And one of the, one of the 4P’s of marketing is product placement. Yes. It’s where can you find the product? And McDonald’s, I wanna say there’s a statistic that like every seven miles there’s a McDonald’s or something. On
Brittany: On Average it’s like Starbucks, but actually probably more than Starbucks.
Emma: Probably, all around the world. Like, so you could be anywhere in the world and chances are you’re not more than seven miles away from a McDonald’s. So obviously if you’re in like the middle of the Sahara Desert, you might have to go a little further. Yeah. But, yeah, sometimes it can be kind of hard to find a Burger King. They’re not in as many places, they’re not as established. So that’s one way that McDonald’s will kind of always have the market edge. They’re more, cemented in people’s minds. They have like this huge network of stores. So that’s sort of like the uphill battle that Burger King and maybe other competitors have to fight.
Brittany: You also reminded me McDonald’s is pretty infamously cheap and they’ve stayed cheap over the years. Yes. Where I think Burger King’s a little more expensive. Like the Dollar Whopper doesn’t exist anymore because of inflation, which our listeners know a lot about. And like, you know, like you said, they’re everywhere. So another thing, and we’ll switch away from McDonald’s for just a second, but Burger King also started a war with KFC. And this one’s really funny to me now, this was obviously before the great Chicken sandwich war of 2019. So this was not a crispy chicken sandwich, but Burger King announced a grilled chicken sandwich and this was new for them. And so they wanted to kind of taunt KFC and so they Invented or filmed a commercial called KGF is what it was called. And so, yeah, I don’t know if you wanna, if you wanna tell a little bit.
Emma: Yeah. It, opens up with this like southern music and a narrator with the Southern accent talking about this new product and then when the camera zooms out, so it sounds like it’s gonna be like a KFC or a Popeye’s ad or something, cuz that’s typically what they do. And then the camera zooms out and shows the actual sandwich and we see the Burger King mascot dressed up as Colonel Sanders, which is.
Brittany: I love that.
Emma: You know, he’s like the mascot of KFC. So then the narrator goes on and says, the king always outranks the ker and describes this sandwich as flame-grilled good. And it’s like a total, play on words with KFC’s finger-licking. Good tagline. And Burger King has become so well known for the brand wars that it actually got an episode on the YouTube channel Epic Rap battles, which if you have never seen, I wanna say it was Hayek versus Keens, They did, yeah. that was different.
Brittany: That was different, company, yeah.
Emma: Totally different, yeah. Company.
Brittany: But It’s great.
Emma: Yeah, that’s is just reminding me of that. But yeah, Ronald McDonald and the Burger King are arguing with each other through wrapping and there’s some bad language. So we’re not gonna link to that one but it shows how influential these brand wars can be. They can actually become part of like the pop culture discussion where just everyday people are like, oh man, have you heard the latest? And that, I mean, at the end of the day, that’s what these companies really want. They want us to be talking about their products and deciding who we think is better.
Brittany: It’s absolutely right. And I know, you know, something Connor and I have talked about several times is that consumers win in this, even if it’s not something that’s saving lives like healthcare, you know, this is giving us something, one less thing we have to do. If I don’t have time to cook, I can go to the store, you know, do a drive-through and get a chicken sandwich. So it, this might not be a lifesaving thing, but it’s great. And it’s also, it just shows the market in action. And one reason I like to talk about these brand wars is in each different brand war you’ll see there’s something different that made them win. You know, someone win this brand war. Yeah. Burger King’s sales might not be beating McDonald’s, but they took advertising to a new net level where now people are talking about their advertising and you know, using it as a way to teach others to do it with Popeyes. Again, they’re still not outranking Chick-fil-A in sales, but they grew exponentially and also they kind of set the bar for this southern-style chicken sandwich. So there’s all these different points where brand wars teach us these things on how, you know, maybe we can be better in whatever product and service we come up with. Cause I know we’ll have lots of future entrepreneurs or current entrepreneurs listening to this. So yeah, I’ve always thought it was really great.
Emma: Me too. This is like a funny, entertaining way to kind of see how the free market works. And it’s fun too because most of us at some point or another has had a burger and most of us have an opinion on whether we like Burger King or McDonald’s more. So, we’re gonna link to a couple of these ads that we mentioned in the show notes so you guys can check ’em out. hopefully have a little laugh, but we’re gonna wrap it up here and talk to you guys again soon. Brittany, thanks so much for chatting.
Brittany: Talk to you later.