In October 2011, SpongeBob's Runaway Roadtrip toys were sold in Burger King kids' meals. Burger King stopped selling the toys in early November 2011. At the end of fiscal year 2010, Burger King reported it had more than 12,200 outlets in 73 countries; of these, 66 percent are in the United States and 90 percent are privately owned and operated. BK has historically used several variations of franchising to expand its operations. The manner in which the company licenses its franchisees varies depending on the region, with some regional franchises, known as master franchises, responsible for selling franchise sub-licenses on the company's behalf. Burger King's relationship with its franchises has not always been harmonious. Occasional spats between the two have caused numerous issues, and in several instances the company's and its licensees' relations have degenerated into precedent-setting court cases.
The Burger King menu has evolved from a basic offering of burgers, french fries, sodas and milkshakes in 1954, to a larger, more diverse set of product offerings. In 1957, the Whopper was the first major addition to the menu; it has since become Burger King's signature product. Conversely, BK has introduced many products which failed to catch hold in the marketplace. Some of these failures in the US have seen success in foreign markets, where BK has also tailored its menu for regional tastes. After the purchase of the company in 2002, Burger King began to aggressively target the 18–34 male demographic with larger products that often carried correspondingly large amounts of unhealthy fats and trans-fats. This tactic would eventually come to hurt the company's financial underpinnings and cast a negative pall on its earnings. The 1970s were the "Golden Age" of Burger King advertising, but beginning in the early 1980s, the company's advertising began to lose focus; a series of less successful ad campaigns created by a procession of advertising agencies continued for the next two decades. In 2003, Burger King hired the Miami-based advertising agency of Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B). CP+B completely reorganized Burger King's advertising with a series of new campaigns centered on a redesigned Burger King character accompanied with a new online presence.
The predecessor to what is now the international fast food restaurant chain Burger King was founded in 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida, as Insta-Burger King. Inspired by the McDonald brothers' original store location in San Bernardino, California, the founders and owners, Keith J. Kramer and his wife's uncle Matthew Burns, began searching for a concept to open a new restaurant around. After purchasing the rights to two pieces of equipment called "Insta" machines, the two opened their first stores around a cooking device known as the Insta-Broiler. The Insta-Broiler oven proved so successful at cooking burgers, they required all of their franchises to carry the device. After the original company began to falter in 1959, it was purchased by its Miami, Florida, franchisees James McLamore and David R. Edgerton. The two initiated a corporate restructuring of the chain; the first step was to rename the company Burger King. The duo ran the company as an independent entity for eight years, eventually expanding to over 250 locations in the United States, when they sold it to the Pillsbury Company in 1967. Pillsbury's management tried several times to reorganize or restructure the restaurant chain in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The most prominent change came in 1978 when Burger King hired McDonald's executive Donald N. Smith to help revamp the company. In a plan called Operation Phoenix, Smith initiated a restructuring of corporate business practices at all levels of the company. Changes to the company included updated franchise agreements, a broadening of the menu, and new store designs to standardize the look and feel of the company. While these efforts were initially effective, many of them were eventually discarded, resulting in Burger King falling into a fiscal slump that damaged the financial performance of both Burger King and its parent. Poor operating performance and ineffectual leadership continued to bog the company down for many years, even after it was acquired in 1989 by the British entertainment conglomerate Grand Metropolitan and its successor Diageo. Eventually, the institutional neglect of the brand by Diageo damaged the company to the point where major franchises were driven out of business and its total value was significantly decreased. Diageo eventually decided to divest itself of the money-losing chain and put the company up for sale in 2000. The twenty-first century saw the company return to independence when it was purchased from Diageo by a group of investment firms led by TPG Capital for $1.5 billion (USD) in 2002. The new owners rapidly moved to revitalize and reorganize the company, culminating with the company being taken public in 2006 with a highly successful initial public offering. The firms' strategy for turning the chain around included a new advertising agency and new ad campaigns, a revamped menu strategy, a series of programs designed to revamp individual stores, and a new restaurant concept called the BK Whopper Bar. These changes successfully reenergized the company, leading to a score of profitable quarters. Yet, despite the successes of the new owners, the effects of the financial crisis of 2007–2010 weakened the company's financial outlooks while those of its immediate competitor McDonald's grew. The falling value of Burger King eventually lead to TPG and its partners divesting their interest in the chain in a $3.26 billion (USD) sale to 3G Capital of Brazil. Analysts from financial firms UBS and Stifel Nicolaus agreed that 3G would have to invest heavily in the company to help reverse its fortunes. After the deal was completed, the company's stock was removed from the New York Stock Exchange, ending a four-year period as a public company. The delisting of its stock is designed to help the company repair its fundamental business structures and continue working to close the gap with McDonald's without having to worry about pleasing shareholders.
Burger King and SpongeBob SquarePantsEdit
Burger King has had many SpongeBob-related kids' meal promotions since the series' debut. Its first SpongeBob SquarePants promotion was in 2001. Its final may be its SpongeBob's Runaway Roadtrip promotion.