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 Advertising Mascots - People

Burger King 2005Burger King - The royal mascot of the Burger King fast food franchise that has appeared in print and TV spots since the disco-era of the 1970s. The bearded figure of Burger King generally is tall, wears a bejeweled crown, and sports a burgundy and gold robe trimmed with white fur collar. Some early versions of the king were short and clean-shaven. As a marketing gimmick, Burger King hired actors to portray the king and appear around the country performing magic tricks in the parking lot outside of local BK franchises.

Entertainer Mike Randall was one of twenty "Kings" hired and trained by the Burger King Corporation. Magicians Mark Wilson and Tony Hassini taught the aspiring burger kings their magical tricks.

The latest reincarnation of the Burger King mascot appeared in the 2004 "Wake up with the King" campaign created by the Miami-based advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The focus of this campaign were two sandwiches: the Double Croissan'wich with egg and meat and cheese, and the Enormous Omelet Sandwich (one sausage patty, two eggs, two American cheese slices and three strips of bacon on a bun with 47 grams of fat).

For these ads, an actor dressed in regal splendor and wearing a gargantuan-sized plastic head of the Burger King character (that never spoke) mysteriously shows up at the home of an average, all-American guy bearing gifts, namely the new Burger King products.

Burger King in Bed with Guy
Burger King in Bed with Guy

In one spot, the guy wakes up in bed, turns over and is confronted with the Burger King character lying beside him. Seemingly unperturbed (however, the viewers found it kind of creepy) the king offers the man a sandwich which he eats and enjoys. At the end of the spot, the King puts his hand on the guys knee and again the viewers found that kind of creepy.

In another spot, the guy wakes up and pulls open his shades. There, in the middle of a lush green backyard, stands the Burger King (like Hannibal Lector in the middle of his cage). For a quick moment, the man turns his head and suddenly the King has traversed some 50 feet in a matter of a second. Now most people would have jumped back in horror, but the sleepy-eyed guy happily accepts an offering of a breakfast sandwich.

Commenting on the stalking-like behavior of the Burger King character, one Internet chat forum contributor stated "If I opened my blinds, and someone was standing there looking at me, I would pee my pants, then scream, then go call 911, even if they did want to give me a free sandwich."

Throughout these commercials, a voiceover (that sounds like druggy Chong of "Cheech and Chong") narrates lines like "New! the Double Croissan'wich. Egg and meat and cheese. Meat and cheese. That's right, the Double Croissan'wich. Wake up...with the king" or "Hello egg," "Hi onion," and "Meat-normous."

Burger King Helium Tank Fixture
Helium Tank Fixture

The idea for the over-sized plastic head on the Burger King character was inspired by a plastic fixture (23" tall with a diameter of 14") created to sit atop a tank of helium, the type used to fill party balloons. The mouth on the king's head had a small hole to inflate the balloons. The unit looked like a large Pez dispenser. Apparently, one day, an ad exec for the campaign saw one of these old plastic heads while browsing "Ebay" and incorporated the fixture idea into the latest Burger King campaign - after a few changes made by a Hollywood special effects expert.

Burger King with Glowing Magic Hands

Clean-shaven Cartoon Burger King

Burger King Doll and Magic Kit

Burger King's hands glowing with magic powers

Clean-shaven 1970 cartoon version of Burger King

Burger King Doll and Magic Trick Kit

 

Actor as the Burger King on TV Show

 
 

Actor as the Burger King appears on TV Game Show

 

Earlier in the Burger King franchise history, their was a Burger King Kingdom (a la "McDonaldLand"). It was populated with a number of interesting characters (phased out in the 1980s) that included the Burger King, of course; Sir Shakes-A-Lot (who wore a milkshake container for a hat and constantly craved milkshakes to drink); The Burger Thing (a living hamburger mounted in a picture frame who liked to sing); The Wizard of Fries (a robot with a head filled with French fries); and The Duke Of Doubt (a villainous guy who doubted the Burger King's magical abilities - "That's impossible to do!"). Once, seeing that the Burger King could create food from thin air, the Duke of Doubt asks "Make me a shake." The King happily obliges by turning the Duke into a giant milkshake. The ad campaign slogan was "Magic makes it special when your with Burger King."

Sir Shakes A Lot

The Duke of Doubt

Burger Thing

Sir Shakes-A-Lot  Duke of Doubt  BK with Burger Thing

TRIVIA NOTE: In 1954, James McLamore and David Edgerton opened the first Burger King restaurant stand (Burger King of Miami) at 3090 NW 36th Street in Miami. They initially sold 18 cent broiled hamburgers and milkshakes. The Whopper, which appears in 1957, would sell for 37 cents. In 1958, the "Burger King, Home of the WHOPPER" campaign was inaugurated. In 1974, the "HAVE IT YOUR WAY®" campaign was created by BBDO

In 1983, Salad Bars were introduced (but later fazed out). The Croissan'wich was introduced in 1985. In 1998, the company opened its 10,000th location in Sydney, Australia. As of 2005, it has 11,220 restaurants in 61 countries.

Apparently inspired by the Burger King campaign, the Quaker Oats Company created a similar campaign in 2005 that featured a painted statue of the Quaker Oats mascot. It appeared in various sites around the country and held out a tray filled with Quaker Oats goodies for passer-bys. I guess, imitation surely is the sincerest form of flattery. See also - Burger King Fighting Chickens

On August of 2011, Burger King decided to drop their "Creepy King" mascot. The ads, created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky. ad agency, had been running for nine years. The new ads (sans the King) were designed to tout the freshness of Burger King's food, in hopes of attraching more Mom's and their families to their restauants.


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