Major Breakfast Push at BK

September 7/Miami/Associated Press Financial Wire -- Burger King is introducing nine new breakfast items -- including blueberry biscuits and pancake platters -- and planning a major breakfast marketing blitz all with an eye toward eating up some of McDonald's morning business.

The chain said the move is its biggest introduction of new items at one time ever. It also includes iced coffee from Seattle's Best.

Chief marketing officer Mike Kappitt said the company has dabbled in breakfast for years since Burger King introduced breakfast in 1979 but is now making it a major focus.

The rollout includes a marketing campaign featuring six new television ads highlighting the menu overhaul. The campaign will last about twice as long as most other Burger King campaigns.

"We've almost abdicated it to McDonald's," Kappitt said of Burger King's breakfast, "and we feel that it's time to take it back, or at least our fair share of it. That's our ambition."

The move comes just as Burger King receives an expected infusion of capital from a new owner. Last week the nation's perennially number-two hamburger chain said it is selling itself to New York-based 3G Capital in a deal valued at $3.26 billion.

It has struggled in the weak economy, as its most fervent customer (men between 18-34) suffer high rates of unemployment.

Beyond that, when unemployment rises, breakfast sales suffer because that is an easy meal for people to skip, Kappitt said. People's habits are entrenched when it comes to breakfast, so the campaign's ads aim to shift those habits to Burger King locations.

The campaign will be on national television and satellite and national radio. Ads will first explain that Burger King has breakfast and then talk specifics.

"One could argue without even putting one new product on the menu, just talking about breakfast would be good for Burger King," Kappitt said.

Breakfast accounts for about 12% of Burger King revenue, while McDonald's gets one-fourth of its revenue from breakfast, Kappitt said.

The new offerings include platters of pancakes, eggs, sausage and other breakfast items ranging from $2.29 to $4.29 and a ciabatta sandwich with eggs, ham, bacon, tomatoes and cheese for $2.89.

Mini-blueberry biscuits complete with icing dipping sauce will take the place of the ham omelet sandwich on the $1 value menu. The popular Croissan'wich will remain.

From the September 20, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition