Have It Your Way

7 09 2010

Get me started telling college stories, and invariably I will tell you about how, during freshman year, my buddy Jeff and I would hurry to the cafeteria on Wednesdays at 4pm for an early feeding. And why would we interrupt our normal schedule for this? Because Wednesday was 69 cent Whopper night down at the Burger King. Jeff and I would amble down the residential streets at about 7pm to partake of this incredible bargain too good to pass up. And since we had already paid for our campus meal plan, we…um…couldn’t miss that one, you know. So we doubled up.

No wonder I gained about 30 pounds that year.

Aside from waxing nostalgic about having it my way every Wednesday night, I can honestly say that BK has not even been a blip on my radar since then. Heck, in 1993 I gave up meat entirely, so I have had no reason to darken their doorway.

To be honest, though, BK hasn’t done much of anything to be on anyone’s radar. Through the years they have been a white elephant, passing ownership hands every few years and never putting up much of a fight for the true industry kingpin, McDonald’s.

So when I read today that BK is expanding its breakfast menu, I nearly laughed aloud. What? An offensive move from a team with no quarterback? A sweep play run without a running back?

Hey, in the words of Chief Marketing Officer Mike Kappitt, “The company has dabbled in breakfast for years since Burger King introduced breakfast in 1979, but is now making it a major focus.”

Did he say 1979? What the? Yes. Dabbling. For 31 years.

Now there’s something to tell the stockholders.

And therein lies the problem. BK has always lived in a 1979 frame of mind. Doing nothing, but expecting great things. Sure, they have pitched Croissan’wiches, and even scored a couple of points with social media in recent years, yet they have hardly challenged McDonald’s and their hefty market advantage. In fact, the folks at McD’s must sit back every week and laugh at their competition. BK. Wendy’s. Hardees and Carl’s Jr. Even regional players like In-N-Out and Five Guys put up more of a fight than does BK.

So pardon me if I roll over and go back to sleep. Maybe those new blueberry muffins and pancakes will be the menu items that pull BK out of its always-a-bridesmaid slump. But I’m definitely not going to first eat at the Gerlich Cafeteria and then trudge over the BK for a second dip. It took me a long time to lose those 30 pounds, and I don’t want to go there again. No matter how cheap it might be.

Dr “Having It My Way” Gerlich

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