Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Is Arby's future Burger King's present?

Yesterday it as reported that Wendy's passed Burger King as the second largest hamburger chain in the U.S. in annual sales – $8.5 billion versus $8.4 billion – even though Burger King has 1,500 more stores.

What does this have to do with the future of Arby's?

Recently Arby's hired Burger King's former marketing director, Russ Klein. He promptly fired BBDO, the advertising agency who's work contributed to five consecutive quarters of growth for Arby's.

With whom did he replace BBDO? CP+B, his former agency Burger King. They were fired after his departure and six consecutive quarters of declining sales.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, then Arby's executive team needs to spend some time on the couch.

Klein in talking about his decision to Adweek Magazine says. "CP+B is the most decorated agency of the last 10 years."

That's great. Awards are nice, but the true value of an agency/client partnership must be measured at the cash register. Subservient Chicken got a lot of views and praise from the ad industry, but how many chicken sandwiches did it sell? The Whopper Lust campaign got press, but giving away your signature product for free is not a recipe for profitability.

I realize that marketing isn't the only contributing factor in Burger King's decline, but unless Klein and CP+B are more disciplined strategically and focus on the things that truly drive business instead of clever but irrelevant marketing tactics, why should we believe the result of their partnership will be any different.

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