Thursday, January 19, 2012

The King

It seems I've spent a lot of time lately noting the struggles of once great American companies-- Hostess, Sears, KMart, Kodak...

If it hasn't happened already, Wendy's was set to surpass Burger King as America's number two fast food chain.

Fast food is subjective, but I've always been a BK fan.  It is the home of one of the greatest sandwiches in history-- the Whopper.

I've been thinking about how and why Burger King lost its way.  It's impossible to knock off McDonalds, but you can still come close.

It seems like BK could never agree on an advertising strategy, and it when it finally did, the ads featured the guy in the creepy King costume.  In my view, the company lost sight of what made it different-- flame broiled hamburgers and easy customization.  I always get my Whopper without mayonnaise.  Ask for a special order at McDonalds, and prepare to wait.  Perhaps one of the reasons Wendy's is doing better is it embraced the customization concept.

Burger King's menu grew too large, and with apologies to a friend who works there, a lot of the stuff is nothing to write home about.

BK fries have always been okay.  Yet, the company seems to change them every year.  Guys, pick something and stick with it.  Easy on the salt.  McDonalds loves the shaker, and that's unfortunate.

Breakfast?  Again, okay, but it's impossible to produce anything better than an Egg McMuffin, and BK seems to be a bit too fond of the microwave.

By the way, Wendy's is achieving all of its success without breakfast.  You can get it in selected cities, but not nationally.  The fact that Wendy's, a huge company, can't get breakfast rolling, shows fast food isn't as easy as it looks.

McDonalds has a lot of 24 hour stores.  BK chooses not to compete in that area.  Apparently, BK couldn't make money from being open all night, and I respect that.

USA Today reports BK is testing home delivery in the Washington, DC area.  Are you kidding me?  BK, it's all so simple.  Go back to the basics.  Do it well.  Tell people why it's different.  Tell people why it's better.  The rest should take care of itself.

>>>UPDATE:   The news broke early this morning-- Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.  The CEO says the move will allow Kodak to return to profitability later this year.  Kodak will focus, pardon the pun, on printers, packaging, and software, among other things.  As noted in earlier blogs, there had to be a time when a Kodak product was in every home in America.  Understatement of the century:  times change.