Tuesday, 29 April 2008

£85 Burger King, £30 Pot Noodle, $9 Evian bottles - economic metaphor or clever marketing?

Burger King are in the news these week after revealing that they are soon to start selling an £85 burger! This will start to be rolled out in high end London locations next month and is rumoured to be made from imported Japanese wagyu beef (though after pressure, plans to include foie gras have been dropped.)

£85 Burger King burger reported in the Sun

The general consensus is that this is a PR stunt positioning Burger King as a premium alternative to McDonald's. There is widespread debate as to whether this is an astute move, but so far it has been successful in securing widespread press coverage for the brand.

Others have been pursuing similar strategies recently:

Pot Noodle are launching a limited edition 'Poulet-et Champignon' Posh Noodle through Harrods. Limited to 100, supplied in a gold leafed pot with accompanying fork and table linen, this will be priced at £29.95 (with all profits going to charity). Again this has generated widespread PR coverage and aims to change perception of the brand.

Luxury Harrods 'Posh Noodle' - on sale soon (but limited to 100)

Evian have also been seeking to 'premiumise' their product by developing iconic packaging with French designer Christian Lacroix. These can be bought in cases of 12 from the US www.shopevian.com website and the cost is $118.00 per case - $9.83 for a 750ml bottle of water.
Limited edition Christian Lacroix Evian bottles and packaging

This whole area is interesting. In recent times we have seen a reversal in advertising whereby in many areas media is leading the creative process
(http://www.nickburcher.com/2007/11/i-spoke-at-creative-review-click-07.html), however the above examples take it further. The above illustrate how media / PR are able to influence actual product development, with limited editions being produced in order to generate PR inches and viral buzz. There are also examples of products being developed / brought back as a result of consumers using new channels to organise campaigns (eg Facebook and Wispa.)

There is an interesting social angle whereby an £85 burger or a £30 Pot Noodle can be seen as an economic sign of our times. However, the value of these product innovations will not be seen through sales, the value is delivered through the PR / consumer awareness that these initatives generate and the subsequent re-appraisal of the brand by consumers.

Whilst the press keep covering these stories, then I think marketers will continue to consider 'premiumisation strategies' - interesting to see what comes next?