Burger King Whopper and fries meal. / Burger King Burger King Whopper and fries meal. / Burger King

Burger King’s ‘Whopper Detour’ Campaign Led to 1.5 Million App Downloads

Burger King’s parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI) confirmed on its fourth quarter earnings report on Monday that marketing tactics like Burger King’s “Whopper Detour,” which rewarded diners with 1 cent Whopper deals while ordering in close proximity to a McDonald’s location, are working incredibly well.

According to newly instated RBI CEO Jose Cil, Burger King’s ‘Whopper Detour’ promotion netted the company 1.5 million new app downloads over the course of the marketing campaign. Burger King was the most downloaded app in the Apple Store for several days in a row during the promotion, and the most downloaded app in the quick-service restaurant sector in the U.S. in December, according to the company.

Other chains are catching on to the witty marketing strategy. Domino’s just launched a similar offering to drive loyalty engagement. The company is handing out rewards points for any pizza bought at any restaurant — Domino’s or its competition — as long as diners sign up for the chain’s Piece of the Pie rewards program.

Leaning on Value

When asked whether Burger King’s deal-driven promotions were sustainable in the long term, RBI chief financial officer Matthew Dunnigan pointed towards Burger King’s continued comparable store sales growth, and growing franchisee profitability.

“What’s important is to drive comparable sales growth, and we saw improvement of comparable sales sequentially in the fourth quarter through a focus on a balanced menu and more compelling promotional activities,” Dunnigan said.

Comparable store sales were up 2 percent in 2018, compared to a 3.1 percent growth in 2017. Total sales at Burger King were up 8.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, compared to 12.3 percent growth in the same period last year. For the full year, the burger chain’s sales were up 8.9 percent.

RBI reported system-wide sales growth of 7.4 percent in 2018, compared to 7.9 percent sales growth the year prior.

Burger King added over 1,000 new stores in 2018, ending the year with a total restaurant count of 17,796 units.

RBI shares were trading up 2.3 percent immediately after the earnings call on Monday.

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