It’s no secret that burgers are big business in the restaurant world. Not only have newer “better burger” chains topped the fast-casual segment for years, but established burger chains also have the power to boost brands, even outside the burger segment.
Case in point: In 2014, A.1. Steak Sauce, a brand usually associated with steak houses, partnered with Burger King to get a part of the burger action. The partnership allowed the sauce to reach a bigger audience and become associated with a lower-ticket menu items such as the A.1. Ultimate Bacon Cheeseburger, an LTO that launched in 2014. Burger King followed with the A.1. Hearty Mozzarella Bacon Cheeseburger, another LTO, in June 2015.
According to Scott Hume, founder and editor of BurgerBusiness.com, this partnership makes good sense in many ways. First, in the new age of digital advertising, sponsored sports, music and other events has become more and more important and leads to added online exposure.
A recent report from IEG, a Chicago-based consulting and research company specializing in event marketing, shows that sponsorships continue to attract major advertising dollars, adding up to $21.4 billion in 2015 in North America. National chain restaurants are well-seasoned in the sponsorship game and for a condiment, there’s more power in partnering with an established brand than going it alone.
“Today, everything is sponsored: Every time-out at a big sports event. Every coin toss. An established burger brand is already out there in the sponsorship world. Partnering with this sponsorship power brings a new way to reach people. It’s a less intrusive way to share exposure,” says Hume.
On Burger King’s side, the A.1. partnership created some easy momentum during a time when the burger build has become increasingly competitive.
“The burger boom has brought a lot of pressure on R&D to keep changing ingredients and adding different cheeses, but there are only so many things you can do,” Hume says. “Using a recognizable sauce is an easy, pre-made R&D process.” For Burger King, adding a pre-made sauce was only give the burgers a new twist—and they sold well. “Customers already know A.1. and like it.”
The partnership also added some upscale cache for Burger King. “Consumers have become used to hearing about the provenance of ingredients,” says Hume. “Menu space at independent restaurants and fine dining is being shared with farm names and cheesemaker’s names, so seeing the name of another ingredient in a burger description has a similar effect.”
So far, Burger King has been slow in trickling out new iterations of A.1. burgers, but Hume expects to see more from this partnership and with many more like it. In fact, A.1. has already done some similar co-branding with the Steak ‘n Shake chain.
This post is sponsored by Bush’s Best®