Burger King: Is Banning Women from the Kingdom a Smart Strategy?

10 Mar

Burger King abandoned its attempts to appeal to the general public years ago.  Seeking to carve out a unique niche in the burger market, the company has invested all of its eggs in targeting males between the ages of 16 and 25.

From touting its menu as non-chick food to running ads depicting women as the enemy, the rhetoric and images surrounding the company are quite anti-woman.

Is this a smart strategy?  Arguably.  By positioning itself as the man-zone, where guys can glut with glee, the company definitely differentiates itself from its more family-focused famed competitors.

But one must question the logic behind removing more than half of the U.S. market from one’s customer list. Is Burger King’s thirst for a niche in the marketplace so great, that it can afford to exclude women from its targeted clientele.   Is it not possible for Burger King to differentiate itself within the fast-food market without drawing the line on gender?

Without completely altering its current marketing and without diluting its carefully-crafted image, Burger King could easily cross the gender barrier. Burger King currently positions itself as the man-zone, as the place where men are allowed to be free. But looking deeper into the underlying theme of the advertising, one quickly realizes that the ad, “I Am Man,” is not merely a statement about manhood, but a more universal critique of the societal pressure to which all humans are subjected. It is a rally-cry for anyone who has unwillingly been a puppet to society’s rules. It is toast to counter-culture, to rebels, and to defiance. The ad resonates with people of backgrounds.

Should Burger King decide once more to welcome women within its kingdom, the company could easily simultaneously run ads targeting the female market that mirror their man-world ones. Just as “I Am Man” controversially confronts the trend of healthy-eating and serves as a call for men who want real food, Burger King could appeal to women who simply want a tasty and hearty meal.

An “I am Woman” ad would show women fed up with society’s standards and its stagnant rules about what they can and cannot do, wear, and–yes–eat. Serving as a rally cry for every women who’s sick of nibbling like a rabbit, tired of counting calories, and finished with trying to be the size that the mass media depicts as in vogue. Burger King could endorse a counter-culture that takes its old mantra, “Have it your way,” to entirely new heights and meanings.


Or perhaps it’s all just a mad marketer’s dream.

Will appealing to women weaken Burger King’s hard-earned reputation as man-world? Is this man-world turf profitable and large enough to justify Burger King’s positioning? Or would changing its strategy to target counter-cultural rebels, regardless of gender, be a more sustainable strategy?

What do you think?


One Response to “Burger King: Is Banning Women from the Kingdom a Smart Strategy?”

  1. Patty S March 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    When I see commercials like this I wonder what on earth is the brand manager thinking? Did he run out of good ideas? Or is he simply desperate.

    BK is already positioned as a family Brand, for me it should focus on saying it has very thing for everyone “the man”, the low calories for the ladies, and the FUN for the kids.


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