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
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."
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'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 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."
|| 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.