Burger King Pakistan Launch: Insane Buzz with no Marketing!

On July 14, 2013 Pakistan woke up to a job advertisement from the world renowned fast food chain Burger King and it has been a crazy 3 months of “When?” and “Where?” till Burger King simultaneously opened its doors at 3 different locations in Karachi on Oct 5th, 2013.

Burger King Job Advertisement (Daily Dawn)

Burger King Job Advertisement (Appeared in Daily Dawn)

Burger King’s launch has to be one of the most talked about, yet the most low-key launches that I have seen in my marketing career – with no red carpet launches, no press announcements, no advertisements! No one concerned with Burger King in Pakistan was commenting or committing to anything – and even their Facebook page has been mum!!

As Atika Rehman ‏‪aptly asked on twitter “Can someone tell me why the ‪@BurgerKing launch in ‪#Karachi is the biggest secret since sarin gas in Syria?” 

But the people still knew about the opening, were standing in long queues for hours & Ahsan Haseeb even quipped that today “You can see two things on Earth from space:

  • The Great Wall of China.
  • The line outside Burger King in Karachi right now.”
A shot of crowd at Burger King in Karachi (image via Saira Malak)

A shot of crowd at Burger King opening in Karachi (image via Saira Malak)

Another shot of the crowd outside the Nishat Commercial outlet (image via @R3hanz1121)

Another shot of the crowd outside the Nishat Commercial outlet (image via Rehan)

Crowds queuing outside Burger King Boat Basin (image via muhammad.f.khan.14811)

Crowds queued outside BK at Boat Basin (image via Muhammad Khan)

From what I have observed – all Burger King has ‘officially’ done (other than the above job advertisement) is one press conference where the announced their tie up with Pepsi as their beverage partner in Pakistan – and otherwise it has been all unconfirmed rumors about opening locations, launch date, etc. … and social media buzz!!

A spotted shot of the Burger King board

A spotted shot of the Burger King board on Karachi street
(NEWS ON SOCIAL MEDIA:  This is Karachi!! That means BK is opening soon!!!)

A shot of the BK board on a site spotted by zunaib.akhund

A shot of the BK board on a site spotted by Zuhaib Akhund
(Is it opening in Boat Basin then?) 

Another possible Burger King site under construction spotted by @scienceistheway

Another possible Burger King site under construction spotted by Naureen
(OH!! So is it opening at Nishat Commercial then??)

@FahadNaeem3 confirms that the Burger King boat basin site

Fahad Khan confirms that the Burger King boat basin site
(When is BK opening? Looks like soon from this photo!!!)

@discomaulvi confirms that the Burger King boat basin site is ready to open

Aly Balagamwala confirms that the Burger King boat basin site is ready to open
(Just tell us when is it opening?!!?)

Yes it was ONLY the word of mouth from Burger King lovers in Pakistan that launched the brand for them – and it has been unending shares of photos on social media that led to a rocking BK launch today.

Farheen Aqueel ‏‪actually tweeted her disappointed at “… a subtle inauguration by Burger King in ‪#Karachi. They should have created some sort of hype at least :/” but this understated launch strategy actually holds some great advantages for the Burger King management team in Pakistan:

  • Low or non-existent marketing or PR costs at launch time for the brand – where there are heavy infrastructure investments for opening 3 outlets.
  • Customer curiosity made it more viral on social media and gave it a bigger hype that a simple announcement from Burger King would have maybe killed!
  • Easier operational management as only those who heard the viral buzz showed up at the outlets and thus customer turnout is more manageable. Imagine if more crowds had shown up on their doors!!

As per Rehan Allahwala ‏“Sale of 1million PKR from all 3 Burger King outlets in Karachi, in just 1 and half hour.” … now this is a good launch for any outlet frankly!!

Moving onwards, we know that Burger King Pakistan will need to get it’s marketing and social media wheels churning to keep up with competition and draw customers – but this is a dream launch for any brand and only a brand as big as Burger King could have pulled it off!!

PS: Why the people of Pakistan were obsessing about Burger King opening here, when its just another burger, is not something I choose to dwell on!! Take your own guess ;)

————————————–

ADDITIONAL NOTE: 

Oct 6th, below ad appeared in most leading press in Karachi – which doesn’t give the locations of the outlets in Karachi or call to action to find them out.

Burger King Press Ad

Burger King Press Ad

 

About Samra Muslim

Comments

  1. Want to know more about
    Advertising in Pakistan
    please visit now at http://advertising-in-pakistan.blogspot.com/

  2. should be in park towers

  3. Faidinkum says:

    Maybe it wasnt a clever strategy with multilevel agendas, maybe it was simply a forced move due to some legalities and we are all trying to find something which isnt there.

  4. Ash Ali Khan says:

    Same old same old!!! Pizza Hut all over again. No service, substandard product and total disregard of customers.

  5. Alia Rizwan says:

    Samra, considering all the current reviews by customers and I would suggest you to check out this picture:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202330019470710&set=gm.631532593564561&type=1&relevant_count=1&ref=nf

    It doesn’t look like a marketing case study cux marketing is not just “Promotion or Advertising” , it consists of 3 more P’s (Product, Price, Place) and for a service business, it consists of 7 P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Physical Evidence, Process). Untill and unless a company doesn’t back the promotion with all the required P’s, it is destined to fail and that is what is happening or will happen to Burger King in Pakistan. Also, the launch phase is very critical as masses or those who are not even your TA will go out and try your product… even those who haven’t had a chance to try Burger King abroad are going out and trying Burger King… they could have done wonders considering all the free buzz they got through social media but looks like the franchise owner was in a real hurry to launch it… I am seriously in doubts if this is actually the Burger King franchise … considering the logo placement and store fascia etc..

    Moreover, the way they are serving food is not even close to any standards followed by any fast food global company forget about the Burger King global standards.. this can be a surely case study for all the marketers … who do the launch in hurry and end up screwing every thing… this can be a brand failure case study for sure… many lessons to learn from..

    Please note no offence meant to your views but just wanted to provide you with another perspective of this matter…

    • Alia, here is my feedback:
      - this blog was firstly written on the 1st day of Burger King launch, so none of the service issues could have risen by then.
      - secondly, the focus of the blog is very clearly just their communications strategy for entering a new market (Pakistan in our case) and nothing else
      - Whether Burger King in Pakistan is a failure or not – is again something that remains to be seen with time, but frankly with less than a week after its launch, it is too premature a comment to make.
      - With regards to your comment about it being the real deal or not (and this is just my deduction) if Starbucks can take action on SattarBuksh logo – BK will not let someone open with their name in any market without them being involved so silently, and neither would Pepsi sign up with any thailay-wala Burger King with so much fan fare!!
      - The P’s of marketing is actually a old-school approach and various other definitions of marketing now exist, which I am not even going to get into as a discussion with you, as that will be going off topic and that includes their service quality, product inconsistency, etc

      I do have some thoughts on their post launch communications strategy – but that is a blog topic you need to look forward too coming out soon :)

      PS – no offence on anyone sharing their perspective here. More the merrier :D

  6. Burger king is operational under the management of same company as Pizza hut… YES MCR pvt ltd…. thats their marketing that they dont create hype of burger king..so they know very well how to do it….

    • Just one small correction, while Pizza Hut was brought in by MCR way back in time, Pizza Hut franchise for Pakistan is currently with Habib Oil Mills.

      • Mudassir Hussein says:

        Samra One more correction its come under the umbrella of House of Habib HOH now not habib oil mill which is not part of HOH. REGARDS

  7. Huh… I hope they would be able to live upto all this insane buzz.. I went to BK Khayaban-e- Nishat and trust me it wasnt a good experience at all… looks like as the opening was unannounced, their staff was unaware too. They were under trained. Food served was burnt hence the whole taste was spoiled.

    We got 6 meals of whopper after struggle of an hour and a half which i consider a big waste as burger quality not as good as abroad.. large glass of coke was half filled i had to ask for proper refill and it dint happen to one glass by mistake but all the coke glasses of 6 meals i ordered and witnessed another customer complaining the same.. fries were best no doubt but burger was total disappointment..

  8. Hi Samra,

    Hope you are doing well and congrats for BK launch in Pakistan.

    From consumer perspective I never knew about the launch of BK in DHA though I live in Ph 8.

    Then as a Marketeer I would like put forward my request to explain not only you but all others that what was the marketing strategy. And if the agency took time to come up with a strategy of this sort then hats of to that agency for juicing the client.

    Like any other or every Dick, Harry and Moe, Burger King will now try to be creative at Social Media,

  9. 1. hype created
    2. i guess people are looking for more quality and change enviorment…. KFC :s Macdonalds bachoon k liye hai bs :-x
    3. location, burger awam k liye
    4. social media attacked the right targeted market, where as adds and news would not have been that much effective in targetting the youth or middle age person these days … kisi ko khoon kharabe wali khabar nhe dekhni bhai …

  10. Reading your article makes it seem like a case of brilliant marketing strategy combined with gullible consumers :) .. also, i think the fact that they went for more than one locations was quite effective because it enabled them to deal with the crazy crowds and also generate just as much buzz!
    P.s. i’m quite sure you can write up a follow-up article on the social media impact of the launch of BK.

  11. here is the problem!they have to give in the taste or go back to waste! competition is tuff when we have all sorts of franchises opening!what next wendys,taco bell, chipotle??

  12. Good stuff

  13. Asad Khan says:

    In future Pakistani girls should expect boys with a burger belly for their marriage!

    Good luck !

  14. It’s a prime example of letting the social media take it’s course. Seems like they controlled it, rather than being lazy :P. I didn’t expect them to open up at 3 spots at the same time. I guess that added the spice to the whole build up to the where and when questions. :D

  15. I think they used a clever strategy instead of a typical red carpet or media event…I like how they build up the hype…very Smart and effective :) Not a Burger person otherwise you would have definitely seen a tweet or few by me too ;)

  16. I think Bk is the first fast food chain launched in defence/clifton and not in nazimabad,,is that so ? If it is then why they chose defense/clifton unlike McDonald’s , KFC and Hardees?

    • Actually Pizza Hut had also opened its first outlet at Boat Basin – so I feel the choice of the location could be for either of the two reasons:
      - MCR (that is the franchisee for BK in Pakistan and had brought Pizza Hut here too) just prefers starting from DHA/Clifton; or
      - Market dynamics of Karachi have changed since the opening of McDonalds and KFC 15 years ago and since bigger repeat customers for a BK are based in the Clifton/Defence side of town, they have opted to open it there. Case in point being Hardees, which does not seem to be faring too well in terms of generating volume of repeat customers at present!!

    • Usman Asad says:

      Simple…They want to target the Niche, which primarily is their TG.

  17. As a certified burger myself I always thought Lahore was the burger capital of Pakistan. I was hoping your review would’ve covered the taste as well :)

    • I shall refrain from commenting on the Lahore remark – because that will lead to the never-ending Karachi vs Lahore debate! ;)

      Decided not to talk of the food since it is BK – have had it 8 or 9 countries around the world (since I am married to an avid BK lover) and it pretty much tastes the same all over – so Pakistan is no different on the taste front!!

  18. I passed by Nishat around 7 and not much rush. Didnt feel like eating. Guess burgers dont excite us anymore.

    PS: the sociable bar is annoying on mobile interface as hides the left side screen and no way to remove it!

    • That might be the case with you – but the lines and photos make it seem like the rest of the nation is on a different tangent!!

      PS – will disable Socialable for mobile – thanks.

  19. Majid from Dadu says:

    Life is too small to be concerned about opening of a restaurant.

    • Well Majid, to me it is a marketing case study of how a brand chose to launch itself it Pakistan, and something other brands, marketing professionals and students can learn from – and life is never to short to learn and improve :)

Hey ... would love it if you share your thoughts here....

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