Six months before its December 31 deadline to comply with the Council of Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative pledge, QSR giant Burger King has revamped its kids meal offering and is trying to get in line with its new BK Positive Steps nutrition program.
Once perceived as a bit of a holdout on the healthy food front, Burger King’s 11,400-odd locations around the world are introducing sweeping changes to their kids offerings, starting with the new BK Kids Meal that launched in the US in early July. The fast-food chain has put a new twist on apple slices by turning them into BK Fresh Apple Fries that come in a french fry carton, accompanied by a ‘ketchup’ packet that actually contains caramel dipping sauce. Kraft has also created a calcium- and vitamin D-enhanced version of its Macaroni & Cheese just for the meal, which is topped off with a bottle of Hershey’s low-fat milk.
To generate market awareness for the new offering, BK is taking a two-pronged approach. Prime-time TV ads targeting moms featuring Little King – a new and mildly rebellious counterpart to humorous icon The King – making demands for the apple fries hit US airwaves on July 7. And for the kids, BK has teamed up with Disney’s Jonas Brothers and Pokémon USA. The QSR is co-sponsoring the Jonas Brothers’ 41-city US concert tour, handing out samples of the Fresh Apple Fries to concert-goers and giving fans exclusive online access to the band through www.BKJonasBrothers.com, which is chock-full of behind-the-scenes info and contest opportunities. Pokémon, meanwhile, is part of the chain’s first in-store promo for its relaunched kids meal program, and more than 25 million Pokémon toys and trading cards will make their way into the meals worldwide. (The US promo takes place this summer, before rolling out to BK’s international locations in early fall.)
According to BK’s senior manager of global youth and family marketing, Mike Fletcher, the restaurant chain executes between 12 and 14 promotions around its kids and family offerings annually, working 14 to 16 months out to factor in time to manufacture the meal premiums. So right now, the executive team is entertaining partnerships for a fall 2010 launch. ‘We’re looking for partners who mesh well with our attitude and brand voice, and who bring their own heat,’ he says, adding that BK’s L.A.-based agency of record, The Pitch Agency, helps the company cull through possible partners from the kids entertainment world.
At the same time, BK is also actively promoting the USDA’s My Pyramid healthy eating program in its restaurants via signage and educational materials directed at moms and gatekeepers. For the kids themselves, BK has taken its paper-based Club BK kids club online with a new dedicated website at www.ClubBK.com. Fletcher says BK is aware that the site’s not going to generate the traffic of a Nick.com, but it will offer games and activities for kids and attempt to engage parents at the same time with coupons and discount offers. For the time being, third-party exposure on the site is being limited to promotional partners, but Fletcher says that as the site evolves and traffic builds, that might change.