Burger King Shows PR Sizzle in Launching Lower-Fat French Fry

Image: NPR

Image: NPR

By launching a lower-fat fry, Burger King is hoping to take a bigger bite out of the fast-food market. Regardless of how things shake out, however, Burger King has a new message for consumers.

Rolling out “Satisfries”—which Burger King says delivers about 40% less fat and 30% fewer calories than the fries sold by its archrival McDonald’s—is part of a new PR recipe at Burger King (which may be adopted by other fast-food companies grappling with changing consumer habits).

Fast-food companies, of course, have been tripping over themselves the last few years to add healthier fare to their menus. Burger King, for example, has added choices such as cranberry apple salads and mango smoothies, according to The New York Times.

Yet the reality is that people go to fast-food restaurants for burgers, fries and shakes because they taste so good, never mind the cranberry apple salads.

Eric Hirschhorn, CMO of Burger King, said as much when he told Time magazine: “We know that attitudes are changing and our consumers are becoming more mindful of the foods they eat. But changing attitudes is much different than changing behavior. We have seen time and again that consumers don’t want to sacrifice the foods they love. We set out to introduce a great tasting french fry with all the french fry attributes that people expect—crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.”

It’s that consistency of message—Hirschhorn had a similar quote in the Times regarding changing consumer behaviors—that holds a few lesson for communicators.

The PR lessons have nothing to do with the nutritional value of Burger King’s new fry and everything to do with staying on message and taking a more realistic approach to the marketplace.

By admitting that “nobody buys” the healthier fare at fast-food restaurants, Hirschhorn is playing it straight with both consumers and investors and not touting a message, er, grilled chicken for everyone, that the brand could not back up.

At the same time, he’s communicating that Burger King is addressing how consumers’ tastes are changing, but without sacrificing why people patronize brand in the first place.

Hirschhorn also shows a flair for aligning humor with a brand message, telling the Times: “You live in Manhattan and might be having a kale smoothie on your way to work this morning. But a lot of people don’t even know what kale is, and if they do, they don’t want to eat it. You have to give people what they want.”

Follow Matthew Schwartz: @mpsjourno1

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About Matthew Schwartz

Group Editor, PR News: Matthew Schwartz is group editor of PR News, the leading source of trends, how-to content and best practices for PR professionals. Matthew leads the editorial strategy for PR News’ premium content products—including its weekly newsletter—and for its digital presence. Matthew was editor of PR News from 2003-2005. Prior to returning to PR News, Matthew was a reporter for Crain’s BtoB and Media Business magazines, where he covered business marketers and media companies. He was also editor of BMA Buzz, a biweekly email newsletter covering B2B marketing, advertising and social media, and contributing writer to Advertising Age Custom. Matthew has helped to launch blogs on behalf of ZoomInfo and direct marketing agency The Kern Organization. He also spent a few years in cable-news precincts, working as a writer/producer at CNN and Fox News Channel.

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  • MoMo Willy

    Those who eat fries aren’t concerned with less fat. They want taste.