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Main article: History of Burger King

The predecessor to what is now the international fast food restaurant chain Burger King was founded in 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida, as Insta-Burger King. The original founders and owners, Keith J. Kramer and his wife’s uncle Matthew Burns, opened their first stores around a piece of equipment known as the Insta-Broiler. The Insta-Broiler oven proved so successful at cooking burgers, they required all of their franchises to carry the device. After the original company began to falter in 1959, it was purchased by its Miami, Florida franchisees James McLamore and David R. Edgerton. The two initiated a corporate restructuring of the chain, the first step was to rename the company Burger King. The duo ran the company as an independent entity for eight years, eventually expanding to over 250 locations in the United States, when they sold it to the Pillsbury Company in 1967. Pillsbury’s management made several attempts at reorganization or restructuring of the restaurant chain in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The most prominent change came in 1978; Burger King hired McDonald’s executive Donald N. Smith to help revamp the company. In a plan called Operation Phoenix, Smith initiated a restructuring of all franchising agreements to give the company more oversight of its franchises,broadened its product offerings by adding new items to its menu, and laid out new store designs to standardize the look and feel of the company. While these efforts were initially effective, many of them were eventually discarded resulting in Burger King falling into a fiscal slump that damaged financial performance of both Burger King and its parent. Poor operating performance and ineffectual leadership continued to bog the company down for many years, even after it was acquired in 1989 by the British entertainment conglomerate Grand Metropolitan and its successor Diageo. Eventually, the institutional neglect of the brand by Diageo damaged the company to the point where major franchises were driven out of business and its total value was significantly decreased. Diageo eventually decided to divest itself of the money-losing chain and put the company up for sale in 2000.

In 2002, a troika of private equity firms led by TPG Capital, L.P with associates Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners agreed to purchase Burger King from Diageo for .5 billion (USD), with the sale becoming complete in December of that year.The new owners, through several new CEOs, have since moved to revitalize and reorganize the company, the first major move was to re-name the Burger King parent as Burger King Brands. The investment group initially planned to take BK public within the two years of the acquisition; this action was delayed until 2006 due to several reasons including the failure of its largest franchisee, AmeriKing. In May 2006 TPG took the chain public with a successful 5 million (USD) initial public offering (IPO), the largest for a U.S.-based restaurant in history at the time.

Some of the structural changes Burger King underwent under the ownership group’s watch were new advertising agency that created a series of new ad campaigns, a revamped menu strategy that focused on male consumers, a series of programs designed to revamp individual stores, and a new restaurant concept called the BK Whopper Bar. These changes led a score of consecutive profitable quarters for the company between March 2004 and March 2009 that successfully re-energizing the company. Despite this, the slowing of the economy during the financial crisis of 2007-2010 caused the chain’s business to decline while its immediate competitors McDonald’s grew.

The latest chapter in the company’s ownership history began in September 2010 when TPG and its partners announced it would sell their 31% stake in Burger King to another private equity company, 3G Capital, for (USD) per share, or .26 billion (USD). The offer, representing a 46% premium over the stocks selling price at the time, came as a surprise to Burger King CEO John Chidsey. The proposed sale is expected to help the company repair its fundamental business structures and continue working to close the gap with McDonald’s. Analysts commenting on the transaction stated that 3G will have to invest heavily in the company to help reverse its fortunes. David Palmer from UBS stated the company will need to work with its large group of franchise owners to brighten its locations and stabilize sales which could take several years and require significant reinvestment, while Steve West of Stifel Nicolaus stated that Burger King will need at least a year to right its fundamentals. After the deal was completed, the company’s stock was removed from the New York Stock Exchange ending a four year period as a public company.

International operations
See also: List of countries with Burger King franchises and Hungry Jack’s
Burger King in Chalco, Mexico City

While BK began its foray into locations outside of the continental United States in 1963 with a store in San Juan, Puerto Rico, it did not have an international presence until several years later. Shortly after the acquisition of the chain by Pillsbury, it opened its first international restaurant in Windsor, Ontario, Canada in 1969.Other international locations followed soon after: Oceania in 1971 and Europe in 1975 with a restaurant in Madrid, Spain.Beginning in 1982, BK and its franchisees began operating stores in several East Asian countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea.Due to high competition, all of the Japanese locations were closed in 2001, however BK reentered the Japanese market in June 2007. BK’s Central and South American operations began in Mexico in the late 1970s and by the early 1980s in Caracas, Venezuela, Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina. While Burger King lags behind McDonald’s in international locations by over 12,000 stores, it has managed to become the largest chain in several countries including Mexico and Spain. To assist in its international expansion, Burger King has established several subsidiaries to develop strategic partnerships and alliances to expand into new territories; in Europe, Burger King’s subsidiary Burger King Europe GmbH is responsible for the licensing and development of BK franchises in the that market, Africa and Western Asia. In Asia, the BK AsiaPac, PTE. Ltd. business unit handles franchising for East Asia, the Asian subcontinent and all Oceanic territories except Australia.

Australia is the only country in which Burger King does not operate under its own name. When the company set about establishing operations down under in 1971, it found that its business name was already trademarked by a takeaway food shop in Adelaide. As a result, Burger King provided the Australian franchisee, Jack Cowin, with a list of possible alternative names derived from pre-existing trademarks already registered by Burger King and its then corporate parent Pillsbury that could be used to name the Australian restaurants. Cowin selected the “Hungry Jack” brand name, one of Pillsbury’s US pancake mixture products, and slightly changed the name to a possessive form by adding an apostrophe ‘s’ forming the new name Hungry Jack’s. After the expiration of the trademark in the late 1990s, Burger King unsuccessfully tried to introduce the brand to the continent. After losing a lawsuit filed against it by Hungry Jack’s ownership, the company ceded the territory to its franchisee.
Burger King in Beijing International Airport, Beijing, China

Over the ten year period starting in 2008, Burger King predicted 80% of its market share would be driven by foreign expansion, particularly in the Asia-Pacific and Indian subcontinent regional markets. While the TPG-lead group continued BK’s international expansion by announcing plans to open new franchise locations in Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and Brazil, the company plans to focus on the three largest markets, India, China and Japan.The company plans to add over 250 stores in these Asian territories, as well as other countries such as Macau, by the end of 2012. Its expansion into the Indian market has the company at a competitive disadvantage with other fast food restaurants such as KFC because the country’s large Hindu majority’s aversion to beef. BK hopes to use their recent non-beef products, such as their TenderCrisp and TenderGrill sandwiches, as well as other products to help them overcome this hurdle to expand in that country.

At the end of its fiscal 2010 year, Burger King is the second largest chain of hamburger fast food in terms of restaurant locations restaurants in the world behind industry bellwether McDonald’s (32,400 locations) and the fourth largest fast food restaurant chain overall after Yum! Brands (37,000 locations), McDonald’s and Subway (32,000 locations).

Main article: Burger King franchises
Burger King restaurant in Leicester Square, London, United Kingdom

When Burger King Corporation began franchising in 1959, it relied on a regional franchising model where franchisees would purchase the right to open stores within a defined geographic region.These franchise agreements granted BKC very little oversight control over its franchisees and resulted in issues of product quality control, store image and design and operations procedures.

During the 1970s structural deficiencies in Burger King’s franchise system became increasingly problematic for Pillsbury. A major example was the relationship between Burger King and Louisiana-based franchisee Chart House, Burger King’s largest franchisee group at the time with over 350 locations in the United States. The company’s owners William and James Trotter made several moves to take over or acquire Burger King during the seventies, all of which were spurned by Pillsbury. After the failed attempts to acquire the company, the relationship between Chart House and Burger King soured and eventually devolved into in a lawsuit. Chart House eventually spun off its Burger King operations in the early 1980s into a holding company called DiversiFoods, which in turn was acquired by Pillsbury in 1984 and folded into Burger King’s operations.

This franchising model remained in place until 1978 when Donald N. Smith arrived in the company the company. Smith initiated a restructuring of all future franchising agreements, disallowing new owners from living more than one hour from their restaurants, preventing corporations from owning franchises and prohibiting franchisees from operating other chains. This new policy effectively limited the size of franchisees and prevented larger franchises from challenging Burger King Corporation as Chart House had. Smith also sought to have BKC be the primary owner of new locations and rent or lease the restaurants to its franchises. This policy would allow the company to take over the operations of failing stores or evict those owners who would not conform to the company guidelines and policies. By 1988 BKC parent Pillsbury had relaxed many of Smith’s changes, scaled back on construction of new locations and stalled growth. Neglect of Burger King by new owner Grand Met, and its successor Diageo, further hurt the standing of the brand, causing significant financial damage to BK franchises and straining relations between the two parties.

By 2001 and after nearly eighteen years of stagnant growth, the state of its franchises was beginning to affect the value of the company. One of the franchises most heavily impacted by the lack of growth was the nearly 400 store AmeriKing; by 2001 the company, which until this point had been struggling under a nearly 0 million (USD) debt load and been shedding store across the US, was forced to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The failure of AmeriKing deeply affected the value of Burger King, and put negotiations between Diaego and the TPC Capital-lead group on hold. The developments eventually forced Diaego to lower the total selling price of the chain by almost three quarters of a billion dollars. After the sale, newly appointed CEO Bradley Blum initiated a program to help roughly 20% of its franchises, including its four largest, who were in financial distress, bankruptcy or had ceased operations altogether. Partnering with the California-based Trinity Capital, LLC, the company established the Franchisee Financial Restructuring Initiative, a program to address the financial issues facing BK’s financially distressed franchisees. The initiative was designed to assist franchisees in restructuring their businesses in order to meet financial obligations, focus on restaurant operational excellence, reinvest in their operations and return to profitability.

Individual owners took advantage of the AmeriKing failure; one of BK’s regional owners, Miami-based Al Cabrera, purchased 130 stores located primarily in the Chicago and the upper mid-west region, from the failed company for a price of million (USD), approximately 88% of their original value. The new company, which started out as Core Value Partners and eventually became Heartland Foods, also purchased 120 additional stores from distressed owners and revamped them. The resulting purchases made Mr. Cabrerra the largest minority franchisee of Burger King and Heartland one of the company’s top franchises. By 2006, the company was valued at over 0 million (USD), and was sold to New York–based GSO Capital Partners. Other purchasers included a three way group of NFL athletes Kevin Faulk, Marcus Allen and Michael Strahan who collectively purchased 17 stores in the cities of Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia; and Cincinnati-based franchisee Dave Devoy, who purchased 32 AmeriKing stores. After investing in new decor, equipment and staff retraining, many of the formerly failing stores have shown growth approaching 20%.

Legal issues
Main articles: Burger King legal issues and Burger King (Mattoon, Illinois)
The Hoots’ family Burger King restaurant in Mattoon, Illinois, one subject of major litigation by Burger King.

Burger King has been involved in several legal disputes and cases, as both plaintiff and defendant, in the years since its founding in 1954. Situations involving these many legal topics have affected almost every aspect of the company’s operations. Depending on the ownership and executive staff at the time of these incidents, the company’s responses to these challenges have ranged from a conciliatory dialog with its critics and litigants to a more aggressive opposition with questionable tactics and negative consequences. The company’s response to these various issues has drawn praise as well as accusations of political appeasement from different parties over the years.

Controversies and disputes have arisen with groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), governmental and social agencies, and unions and trade groups over various topics. These situations have touched on legal and moral concepts such as animal rights, corporate responsibility, ethics, and social justice. While the majority of the disputes did not result in lawsuits, in many of the cases the situations raised legal questions, dealt with legal compliance, or resulted in legal remedies such as changes in contractual procedure or binding agreements between parties. The resolutions to these legal matters have often altered the way the company interacts and negotiates contracts with its suppliers and franchisees or how it does business with the public.

Further controversies have occurred during the company’s expansion in the Middle East. The opening of a Burger King location in the Israeli-occupied territories lead to a breach of contract dispute between Burger King and its Israeli franchise; the dispute eventually erupted into a geopolitical conflagration involving Muslim and Jewish groups on multiple continents over the application of and adherence to international law. The case eventually elicited reactions from the members of the 22-nation Arab League; the Islamic countries within the League made a joint threat to the company of legal sanctions including the revocation of Burger King’s business licenses within the member states’ territories. A related issue involving members of the Islamic faith over the interpretation of the Muslim version of canon law, Shariah, regarding the promotional artwork on a dessert package in the United Kingdom raised issues of cultural sensitivity, and, with the former example, posed a larger question about the lengths that companies must go to insure the smooth operation of their businesses in the communities they serve.

A trademark dispute involving the owners of the identically named Burger King in Mattoon, Illinois led to a federal lawsuit; the case’s outcome helped define the scope of the Lanham act and trademark law in the United States. An existing trademark held by a shop of the same name in South Australia forced the company to change its name in Australia, while another state trademark in Texas forced the company to abandon its signature product, the Whopper, in several counties around San Antonio. Legal decisions from other suits have set contractual law precedents in regards to long-arm statutes, the limitations of franchise agreements, and ethical business practices; many of these decisions have helped define general business dealings that continue to shape the entire marketplace.

Charitable contributions and services

Burger King has two of its own in-house national charitable organizations and programs. One is the Have It Your Way Foundation, a U.S.-based non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation with multiple focuses on hunger alleviation, disease prevention and community education through scholarship programs at colleges in the US. The other charitable organization is the McLamore Foundation, also a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation that provides scholarships to students in the US and its territories.Additionally, there is an optional literacy program that partners individual restaurants with community schools in the US.

In various regions across the United States, Burger King and its franchises have aligned themselves with several charitable organizations that support research and treatment of juvenile cancer. Each year these coalitions hold a fund raising drive called A Chance for Kids, in which Burger King restaurants sell lottery-style scratch cards for (USD). Each card produces a winning prize that is usually a food or beverage product, but includes (rarer) items such as shopping sprees or trips. In the Northeast, BK has affiliated itself with the Major League Baseball team the Boston Red Sox and its charitable foundation, the Jimmy Fund. The group runs the contest in Boston. In the New York city area it operates the contest in association with the Burger King Children’s Charities of Metro New York and the New York Yankees. Funds raised in these areas go to support the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute located in Boston. In Nebraska, the company is affiliated with the Liz’s Legacy Cancer Fund BK Beat Cancer for Kids program at the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. In the Pittsburgh region it funded the establishment of the Burger King Cancer Caring Center, a support organization for the families and friends of cancer patients.

Main article: Burger King products
The Whopper sandwich, Burger King’s signature product

When the predecessor of Burger King first opened in Jacksonville in 1953, its menu consisted predominantly of basic hamburgers, french fries, soft drinks, milkshakes and desserts. After being acquired by its Miami, Florida franchisees and renamed to its current moniker in 1954, BK began expanding the breadth of its menu by adding the Whopper sandwich in 1957. This quarter pound (4 oz (110 g)) hamburger was created by Burger King’s new owners James McLamore and David Edgerton as a way to differentiate BK from other burger outlets at the time. Since its inception, the Whopper has become synonymous with Burger King and become the focus of much of its advertising. The company has even named its new kiosk-style restaurants Whopper Bars.

After being brought on in 1978, one of Donald N. Smith’s first changes to the menu was the addition of the Burger King Specialty sandwich line in 1979, which significantly expanded the breadth of the BK menu with many non-hamburger sandwiches including new chicken and fish offerings. The new specialty sandwich line was one of the first attempts to target a specific demographic, in this case adults 18-34, members of which would be willing to spend more on a higher quality product. One of Smith’s other significant contributions to the menu was the addition of a breakfast product line, which until this time was not a market Burger King had entered. Besides the addition of the Croissan’Wich in 1983, the breakfast menu remained almost identical to the McDonald’s offerings until a menu revamp in 1985. This expansion introduced BK’s Am Express product line which added new products such as French toast sticks and Mini-muffins.

As the company expanded both inside and outside the US, it introduced localized versions of its products that conform to regional tastes and cultural or religious beliefs. International variations add ingredients such as teriyaki or beetroot and fried egg to the Whopper, beer in Germany, Italy and Spain, and halal or kosher products in the middle East and Israel. To generate additional sales, BK will occasionally introduce limited time offers (LTOs) that are versions of its core products or new products intended for either long or short term sales. Items such as the Texas Double Whopper and various sandwiches made with mushrooms and Swiss cheese have been rotated in and out of its menu for several years, while products such as its 1993 Meatloaf Specialty Sandwich offering and accompanying limited table service along with special dinner platters, failed to generate interest and were discontinued.


In order to appeal to as many demographic groups as possible and better compete with its fast food restaurant competitor Wendy’s, Burger King added a multi-tiered value menu in 1993 with items priced at 99¢, .99 and .99 (USD). The project, called Operation Phoenix, was an attempt to add not only a value menu but a line of value meals. The tiered menu was replaced with a more standard value menu in 1998, while the value meals were separated into their own menu segment. This value menu featured seven products: Whopper Jr., 5 piece Chicken Tenders, a bacon cheeseburger, medium sized french fries, medium soft drink, medium onion rings and small shake. In 2002 and 2006, BK revamped its value menu adding and removing several different products such as chili and its Rodeo Cheeseburger. Many of these items have since been discontinued, modified or relegated to a regional menu option. To better appeal to a more adult palate and demographic, BK introduced several new products to its menu in 2003, including several new or revamped chicken products, a new salad line and its BK Joe brand of coffee. Some of the new products, including its Enormous Omelet Sandwich line and the BK Stacker line, brought negative attention due the large portion size, amounts of unhealthy fats and trans-fats. Many of these products feature higher quality ingredients like whole chicken breast, Angus beef, natural cheeses such as Cheddar and pepper jack.Again, not all these products, such as the BK Baguette line, have met corporate sales expectations.
Food being prepared in a Burger King kitchen in Italy.

Like its menu, the equipment the company cooks its hamburgers with has also evolved as the company grew. The burgers have always been broiled mechanically; the original unit, called an Insta-Broiler, was the primary piece of equipment Insta-Burger King was founded around. When McLamore and Edgerton took over the company, besides dropping the “Insta-” prefix, they switched to an improved unit, which they called a “Flame Broiler”. Designed by the two and featuring stationary burners that cooked the meat on a moving chain, the unit broke down less often while maintaining a similar cooking rate.The company would stay with that model for the next forty years until Burger King began developing a variable speed broiler that could handle multiple items with different cooking speeds and times. These new unit began testing in 1999 and eventually evolved into two models the company has deployed system-wide in 2008-2009. Accompanying these new broilers was new holding equipment was a computer based product monitoring system for its cooked products. The monitoring system allows for more concise tracking of product quality giving the company and its franchisees to streamline costs by more preciously projecting sales and usage.

Main article: Burger King advertising
The iconic Burger King “crown”, worn by Nick Van Eede.

Burger King has employed varied advertising programs, both successful and unsuccessful, since its foundation in 1954. During the 1970s, output included a memorable jingle, the inspiration for its current mascot the Burger King and several well known and parodied slogans such as Have it your way and It takes two hands to handle a Whopper. Burger King introduced the first attack ad in the fast food industry with the then unknown Sarah Michelle Gellar in 1981. The television spot, which claimed BK burgers were larger and better tasting than competitor McDonald’s, so enraged executives at McDonald’s parent company, they sued all parties involved. Starting in the early 1980s and running through approximately 2001, BK engaged a series of ad agencies that produced many unsuccessful slogans and programs, including its biggest advertising flop Where’s Herb?.

Burger King was a pioneer in the advertising practice known as the product tie-in with a successful partnering with George Lucas’ Lucasfilm, Ltd. to promote the 1977 film Star Wars in which BK sold a set of glasses featuring the main characters from the film. This promotion was one of the first in the fast food industry and set the pattern that continues to the present. BK’s early success in the field was overshadowed by a 1982 deal between McDonald’s and the Walt Disney Company to promote Disney’s animated films beginning in the mid 1980s and running through the early 1990s. In 1994 Disney switched from McDonald’s to Burger King, signing a ten film promotional contract which would include such top ten films as Aladdin (1992), Beauty and the Beast (1991), The Lion King (1994) and Toy Story (1995). A partnership in association with the Pokémon franchise at the height of its popularity in 1999 was one of the most successful in the industry, rivaled only by McDonald’s/Ty Beanie Babies cross-promotion in 1999–2000.

Shortly after the acquisition of Burger King by TPG Capital, L.P. in 2002, its newly hired CEO Bradley (Brad) Blum set about turning around the fortunes of the company by initiating an overhaul of its flailing advertising programs. One of the first moves by the company was to reinstate its famous Have it your way slogan as the corporate motto. BK handed the effort off to its new advertising agency, Miami-based Crispin Porter + Bogusky (abbreviated as CP+B). CP+B was known for having a hip, subversive tack when creating campaigns for its clients, exactly what BK was looking for. One of CP+B strategies was to revive the Burger King character used during BKs 1970s/1980s Burger King Kingdom children’s advertising campaign as a caricatured variation now simply called “the King”. The farcical nature of the Burger King centered advertisements inspired an internet meme where the King is photoshopped into unusual situations that are either comical or menacing, many times followed with the phrase Where is your God now?.

Additionally, CP+B created a series new characters like the Subservient Chicken and the faux nu metal band Coq Roq featured in a series of viral web-based advertisements on sites such as MySpace and various BK corporate pages to compliment the various television and print promotional campaigns. One of the unique promotions that CP+B devised was the creation of a series of three advergames for the Xbox 360. Featuring company celebrity spokesman Brooke Burke, the games sold more than 2 million copies, placing them as one of the top selling games along with another Xbox 360 hit, Gears of War. These ad campaigns, coupled with other new promotions and a series of new product introductions, drew positive and negative attention to BK and helped TPG and its partners realize about 7 million (USD) in dividends.

Company headquarters in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida

Burger King is headquartered in a nine-story office tower by Miami International Airport in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida. Elaine Walker of the Miami Herald stated that the headquarters has a “Burger King” sign that drivers on Florida State Road 836 “can’t miss.” In addition the chain planned to build a neon sign on the roof to advertise the brand to passengers landing at the airport. 130 employees began working at the Burger King headquarters on Monday July 8, 2002, with the remainder to move in prases in August 2002. Prior to the moving to its current headquarters in 2002, Burger King had considered moving away from the Miami area; Miami-Dade County politicians and leaders lobbied against this, and Burger King stayed in the area.

The company’s previous headquarters were in a southern Dade County campus described by Walker as “sprawling” and “virtually hidden away.” The former headquarters were located in the Cutler census-designated place; since then the area incorporated into the Village of Palmetto Bay. The former Burger King headquarters as of 2007 houses rental offices for several companies.

By 2006 Burger King had announced that it planned to move its headquarters to a proposed office building in Coral Gables. By 2007 Burger King instead renewed the lease in its existing headquarters for 15 years. Burger King planned to consolidate employees working at an area near Miami International Airport and at a Dadeland Mall-area facility into the current headquarters by June of that year. Instead Bacardi USA leased the headquarter complex, a 15-story building.

See also
Miami portal
Companies portal
Food portal
Drink portal

* McDonald’s – Largest competitor in hamburger restaurants. Second largest competitor in fast food restaurants.
* Subway – Largest Single brand competitor in fast food restaurants.
* Wendy’s – Third largest competitor in hamburger restaurants.
* Yum! Brands – Largest company in fast food restaurants.

* Drive-through

Book:Burger King
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