Burger King … RIP?

It was announced over the weekend that Burger King (the restaurant) is retiring the most royal of mascots … “The King”.

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Burger King first opened its doors back in 1954, and although “The King” has gone through several redesigns throughout the years, he’s always been part of the company’s brand.

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Here’s a picture from TVAcres.com of a Burger King doll from the 1980s.

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Unfortunately Burger King’s “King” was never as strong of a character as Ronald McDonald or even a Fry Guy. As a result, the King made few television appearances from the 1950s all the way up through the 1990s.

(Eagle-eyed Retroist fans should have spotted Elizabeth Shue and Andrew McCarthy in that clip. If you did, good job!)

In the late 2000s, Burger King tried to revamp the King’s image by making him … creepier. In a series of television commercials, the King would randomly appear and deliver people food.

I’m pretty sure accepting a breakfast sandwich from a strange adult who you’ve just discovered was sleeping in your bed pretty much breaks every “Stranger Danger” rule I learned in grade school.

This newer, creepier King became so popular for a short period of time that three Xbox 360 games were released starring The King. Each game was $3.99. My favorite of the three was Sneak King, a game in which you, as the Burger King, had to sneak up on people and deliver them sandwiches. The first level had you, dressed as The Burger King, sneaking up on working loggers — guys actively using chainsaws and axes. This has “bad idea” written all over it.

Over the weekend, Burger King (the company) announced that in an effort to reinvent itself, it will be moving away from the mascot. Maybe The King will be Burger King’s response to McDonald’s McRib, and will only make yearly appearances.

If you really start missing The King, keep in mind that Halloween is right around the corner, and Burger King costumes, especially over the past few years, have been a big hit.

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Rob O'Hara

I'm into old video games, old arcade games, old computer games, writing, photography, computer/network security, and of course, the 1980s!

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9 thoughts on “Burger King … RIP?

  1. Nice one, Doug! Bravo. :)

    I’m not happy about this at all, but maybe it’s as Six Million Dollar Jedi has said…maybe we shall see the King return to his rightful place eventually?

    There was a teenager dressed up as the Burger King in my youth during the Star Wars craze, he handed me my first bit of Star Wars: A New Hope merchandise, a poster with Luke Skywalker on it. I then went back the next three weeks and bought my soda and got a poster…glorious times.

    You know…maybe it was really THE Burger King?

  2. I know that McDonald’s got a lot of flack (no pun intended) from parent and food advocacy groups a few years ago for targeting children in their commercials through the use of a clown, Ronald. (I believe in their defense, McDonald’s claimed that Ronald McDonald was never shown actually eating the food, but I could be wrong about that.) Either way, I suspect that this may be fallout from that.

    I showed the pictures of The King to my two kids and neither one knew who he was, despite the fact that we live less than a mile away from Burger King and eat there once or twice a month. I know Burger King was recently purchased a year or two ago, so perhaps based on the ineffectiveness of the character is what caused them to move in a different direction.

  3. Kris Knives says:

    From what I’ve heard you have the right of it Flack. I really think people over estimate the power of mascots on children. Maybe next we’ll see the Trix rabit being but down for the dastardly crime of targeting children too. Still, you never know, maybe BK is going to roll out a cool new mascot now. I enjoyed their Star Wars tie in commercials so maybe they could get that ad team to replace the King. Also that is hilarious about Sneak King, thanks for posting this.

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