Mcdonalds-beats--burger-kingI love talking about food. And I love talking about business. Even better, most of the people that read this blog share these same passions and so today I’m going to deviate a little from the norm and have a little fun analyzing two household names that we’ve all grown up experiencing quite a bit of: McDonald’s and Burger King.

The other day, as I was standing at a gas station I looked out to see a McDonald’s and Burger King on opposite sides of the street. Furthermore, I could clearly see that McDonald’s(McD’s) was doing really, really well. It was bustling with activity and the drive-thru was at least 5 cars back. On the other hand, BK, although still relatively busy, appeared to have half the volume of customers as their nemesis.

So the question is why? How can McDonald’s continue to kick Burger King all over the field over and over again? I find it a very intriguing question, one that, when analyzed, is applicable to any business or niche. Let’s take a look.

7 Reasons Why McDonald’s Dominates Burger King

1. Branding

When someone says McDonald’s, what comes to mind? It is the golden arches? Maybe Ronald McDonald? How about the Big Mac? Yep, MickeyD’s is loaded with brand images that are embedded into the souls of Americans from a very early age, and the company’s influence has been profound.

Now let’s try it for BK. When someone says ‘Burger King’, what do you think of? Personally, I think of that freaky looking ‘King’ guy that appears to belong on some Rated-R movie. Seriously, who the heck designed that guy? Let’s put it like this, who would your child rather approach—Ronald McDonald or Freaky Burger King guy? What a head-scratcher that one is…

2. They Make Tough Choices

McD’s recently went through a major change in their company with the addition of McCafe. Was this an easy choice? Heck no. It was expensive and there were certainly a fair share of franchisees that were none-too-thrilled. Notwithstanding, recent reports have showed this huge investment is already paying off and taking a chunk from big boys in the coffee industry like Starbucks. And BK? Yeah, they have coffee…..I think.

McD’s has always been known to make tough choices—some succeeding greatly and some failing miserably. But their willingness to fail is in a class by itself and enables them to stay ahead of their competitors year after year.

3. They Innovate Better than Anyone

Do you remember when the McGriddle came out? At first everyone thought a ‘pancake sandwich’ sounded really weird, that is until they tasted them. The McGriddles were a huge hit, and are still a part of the menu today. I could literally list dozens of major McDonalds innovations over the years, but it suffices to say that these guys are focused better than anyone in the fast food arena on constant innovation.

Regarding BK, can you name 1 major innovation they’ve had over the years?? (crickets in the background…..)

4. They Copy Better than Anyone

Hey, why reinvent the wheel when it already works? A perfect example of this is the relatively new country friend chicken sandwich of McD’s. Anyone with a brain knows that this sandwich was a clear copy of its counterpart at Chick-fil-A, yet notwithstanding the ‘copied’ version tastes pretty darn good in comparison. This was also true with the ‘McFlurry’….hmmm, strangely sounds like ‘Blizzard’ there ;-)

Simply put, when McD’s sees something working well for other venues, they’re not afraid to say, “Hey, we didn’t come out with it first, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take the ideas and run with it.” If only every restaurant and business followed this example and understood when to copy the successful behaviors of their competitors.

5. They Speak to Children

Ever heard the phrase ‘Happy Meal’? Of course you have. So has everyone else, including children. For years McD’s has established strong relationships in their brand by marketing directly to children, and giving them the products they want—little meals with lots of color, happy faces, and a toy (hence, Happy Meal).

But what about BK? Can you come up with the name of their ‘kid’s meal’? I sure can’t.

6. They’re Always First

Not only were these the first guys way back in the day to invent the fast food burger and then franchise their little gold-mine, but they have also continued to be first in most areas to this day. If you think back, it was only a couple of years ago that fast food restaurants didn’t take credit cards. Today, they all do, but as you might well imagine, guess who was one of the first to jump on board with credit card machines? That’s right, the Golden Arches wins again, back in April of 2004.

7. Hamburger University

The first time I heard about Hamburger University and their 5,000 yearly graduates I was blown away. The fact that a company could be so focused on education and innovation and establish a scholastic burger Mecca is mind-blowing when one really thinks about it.

What are we missing?

Have you noticed the one quality I haven’t listen here? If you guessed food quality, you’re right. Here is the thing—I think most people would agree that the food at McDonald’s versus Burger King isn’t much better, if at all. Heck, many people would even argue that ‘The King’ is a better product. But notwithstanding, the gross sales when comparing the two companies aren’t even close, which goes to show that ‘product quality’ isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

OK, so I’ve said my piece, now I’m curious to get your thoughts. What reasons have I missed? Do you agree or disagree? Understand that I’m not really interested in debating the merits of their food, just the business models in general. Why else do the Golden Arches reign supreme and what further business lessons can be learned?

97 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why McDonald’s Crushes Burger King Year After Year After Year

  1. Spot on. Even though I do not eat at either place much, the quality is about the same; I tip my hat in favor of McD’s fries though. But what McD’s does so well is advertise. You can have a mediocre product but advertise like a mad man and eventually, you may become top dog; in this case, they have. Granted it is all about, location location location, when you’re sponsoring huge sporting events and have celebrities endorse your product, you’ve done your part, your face is out in the public eye, now you just need to sit back and relax and watch the money fly in.

    Matthew Leone,
    DAX Systems Inc.
    343 New Road
    Parsippany, NJ 07054
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    • Very true Matt, their advertising is top dog, in a major way. I’d be curious to know the amount McD’s spends on advertising and the amount The King spends….

  2. Jk

    I like this article Marcus, and it was fun…bu the reason why McD’s beats the King is because they close and open each year with the McRib. Duh! You know, that BBQ dipped piece of mysterious meat! The King is trying to keep up, offering the Chicken sandwich 2 for 1, but is that enough? NO WAY!
    In all actuality, I love the McRib – although I don’t eat fast food very often.

    On to the real stuff … I think what you’ve laid out here is another brilliant example of your ability to take what is simple, identify the complexities, and make it a simply applicable learning scenario – one that anyone can relate to. You keep me impressed!

    I can’t venture beyond what you’ve provided – because I think you covered it all. The overarching lesson learned for me is that the focus on product quality doesn’t trump the power behind marketing and business strategy. Quality is important, but getting the product out to the world and respected as credible and the best option is where true success will be met.

    Valuable valuable lesson! Thanks.
    .-= Jk´s last blog ..A Universal Strategy for Achieving Results =-.

    • Glad you liked it Hustle, it was fun to write about and take a hard look at the subject, a great exercise for anyone in business.

      The McRib– Ha! That’s so true man. I mean, does anyone actually know what is in that thing?? ;-) Notwithstanding, the McRib has a huge fan base. Every year, people get jacked about its release….Nuts.

      I agree with the overall lesson you mentioned. Quality doesn’t always trump the power of great marketing, branding, and business. This is what’s so interesting to me about the case study, as we always hear it’s all about quality, quality, quality…

      Always appreciate you stopping by Hustle. :-)

  3. You usually mention this, McDonalds is on Facebook and Twitter.

    • Great point Bob, let’s take a look:

      BK currently has 696,000 fans of FB
      McD’s currently has 6,296,000

      Holy Shnikees, that’s a difference of almost 6 mil!!!!

      BK has about 3,500 Twitter followers
      McD’s has about 70,000 currently

      Anyone surprised?

      • Wow, I AM SURPRISED!
        I never imagined the difference between them to be that big!
        Here in Egypt though, McDonalds has nearly 90% share of the burger market, and the rest is shared between BK and other local burger joints!
        .-= Amr Boghdady´s last blog ..Das Wort des Tages =-.

  4. I must confess I’m not a fan of either Marcus as I prefer ‘real’ food but for me McDonalds kicks Burger King’s butt because they have a funky, energy laden brand with a happy character in Ronald built in. They’ve created a ‘hip’ feel about them almost dude like as in the surf culture which Burger King and its clip art logo doesn’t. Razzamatazz and pizzazz versus sobre small town burger joint next to the drive in = no contest.

    If I went near I would go to McD’s as its a promise kept in terms of experience and colour and vibe. Burger King needs a complete new overhaul and should go radical by putting in internet cafes and coffee zones to attract a different set of people. In terms of this battle, about burgers it ain’t. It’s coolness, street cred and a modern feel. BK need a wake up call.
    .-= John Sherry´s last blog ..Hope In A Hundred Words =-.

    • I really like your take on this John with how McD’s has figured out a way to create a ‘hip’ feel to their brand, whereas BK is the antithesis in many ways of hip with their cheesy efforts.

      And I really like what you offer as a solution for BK– a complete revamping of their entire look. More modern, leveraging the internet and having ‘coffee zones’, and the like.

      Great thoughts John, BK should offer you a job!!

      • Happy to consult them Marcus – but not have the burgers. Sometimes someone else’s eyes with no axe to grind can see things better when looking in. If BK went internet/coffee/classy burgers they’d re-invent the whole shebang. Won’t take much just some vision. Not something they’re normally known for though! To up profit go up market.
        .-= John Sherry´s last blog ..Hope In A Hundred Words =-.

  5. Dia

    Hi Marcus,

    You made me hungry lol I agree with you Mcdonalds is excellent at branding. I think this is one of the main qualities that distinguishes McDonalds from Burger king.

    I have never heard of the Humburger University before. This is really nice as it teaches employees aspects of the business. Kudos to McDonalds for this.

    Thanks for sharing Marcus, I like you writing by the way :)
    .-= Dia´s last blog ..How to not say something you will regret =-.

    • Yeah, the Hamburger University things is wild….very much a pioneer idea of McD’s as it has been around for many, many years.

      All about that brand!!

      Thanks for the kind words buddy and thanks for taking your time to contribute here so much!

  6. … and the fabulous conversation continues :)

    First – I’m so glad we’ve “met.” This is a great article with key lessons about the value of branding. I’m doing some branding work with a client right now and you’ve laid out some points that will be instantly applicable to the project, so … thanks!

    Second – Love that billboard. Genius.

    To continue our previous conversation about the balance between quality (ie – product/service) and branding, your post beautifully illustrates McD’s strength in both areas. Their branding is obviously superior (I’ve had nightmares about that plastic-headed king thing), but they also kick the livin’ daylights out of poor, old BK when it comes to product development: their tough choices/product line extensions, innovations, copy cat savvy. On the branding side (apart from NOT having creepy king guy in sleazy boudoir scenes), they’ve got good, old Ronald; the Happy Meal; Hamburger U, and their general “sunny” appeal.

    Personally, I don’t find either brand to be a bastion of “quality” when compared with – as John Sherry said – “real” food; BUT as two competitors in the same burger-flipping, fries-frying industry – McD’s is the clear winner on both the product and branding fronts. It’s a hard-to-beat, one-two punch. I don’t see BK ever getting up off the mat.

    Tks for the great post. I’m off to tweet it! ;)
    .-= Suddenly Jamie´s last blog ..Let’s Forget About Marketing for a Minute =-.

    • Thanks Jaime, I’m so glad you stopped by and as we’re both so passionate about marketing and branding, this is the perfect conversation. :-)

      Regarding the Freaky King guy, if I think the guy looks like a freak, and you think he looks like a freak, then why the heck has BK continued to use the dude? Can anyone out there answer this most mystifying question?? The only thing I can think of is that the Freaky King Guy is somewhat polarizing and memorable (albeit in a very bad and creepy way) and so therefore they stick with him.

      But I guess they could go back to Hootie……. ;-)

      Thanks again for such valuable feedback Jaime and the RT. Have a GREAT one!!

      • OMG!!!!!
        I don’t watch a lot of TV, and what I do watch is generally on my DVR so I can fast-forward through commercials … that Hootie thing was atrocious!!! It’s at least as distrubring as the Freaky King Guy.

        Who is leading the creative over there – Hugh Heffner?!?!

  7. Reading your thorough analysis has made me realise how much I’d like a burger about now.

  8. G’Day Marcus,
    I don’t like Macca’s food–the only thing I find tolerably edible is the cheeseburger– but I just love to go there and watch. Voyeuristic? At my age I’m not saying!

    It’s their focus that impresses me. Here’s a little story to support your post.

    The first McDonald’s in Australia was opened by a man called Peter Ritchie. He went on to become CEO and Chairman here before he retired a few years ago.

    He talks about how in the very early days here in Australia, he was constantly being asked to attend Hamburger University. To an Aussie, Hamburger University sounded like typical U.S. hype: trying to make something sound far more important than it really was. Finally, he agreed to go.

    I can’t remember his exact words but when I heard him talk about it some years ago, they went something like this.

    ” Hamburger University! I couldn’t believe it! Here were all these people, some of them multimillionaires with multiple franchises. And they were all totally dedicated to one thing: making a better hamburger!”

    Nuff sed eh Marcus?

    Keep beating the drum, mate.



    • Nuff said is right Leon. Boy do you always perfectly add the Australian perspective!

      Love ya buddy :-)

  9. Danielle

    now I want to go to mcdonald’s!!

    • Well then go ask your Mom to take you ;-)

      (ps: Danielle is my 9 year old daughter everyone….occasionally she hops on here and surprises her dad ;-) )

  10. Great post Marcus.

    I would add one more thing:

    McDonald’s is a marketing company that happens to sell hamburgers and Burger King is a hamburger company that happens to market.

    Make sense?


    • Yes Alex, perfectly stated, and boy what a difference a simple shift in semantics will make on the bottom line of a business.

      Thanks for stopping by friend. :-)

  11. All I have to say, is you got to love Entrepreneurship. RIP (Rray Croc) whats brilliant man.

    • Hey Jonathan, good to see you man. Yeah, Croc was a stud….Big Time Stud.

  12. Awesome post bro!
    I agree with your points. Sure, McDonald have a solid branding and they does make tough choices. Also, they understand the laws of leadership. Thanks a lot for sharing. Have fun.

    • Yes Samuel, that is a very good point as well. Their leadership chain in general, from top to bottom, is much, much stronger than BK and others. To do what they’ve been doing for this long, there is no way they could have a weak leadership foundation.

  13. I have to tell you that I never really thought of this one. McD’s has really cornered the market on fast food. I think one thing that they do in their marketing is make their food equal happiness. Everyone that eats a Big Mac or drinks a McCafe coffee is happy, smiling, cheerful. Ever notice that?

    Personally, I’m a big anti-McDonald’s person. The food quality is terrible and not at all nutritious. I’m not a big fast food person period. But that mega-giant chain knows what their doing to make a buck, despite the awful food.
    .-= Terez´s last blog ..Five Secrets For Business Success =-.

  14. In my opinion, and you all know the old saying about us all having one and a particular body part, McD’s has always been the innovator. If you notice you will never see a Burger King in an area without a McD’s near by. McD puts in a tremendous amount of geographical research before putting one up. If you see a new McD’s going up in your area there will soon be a BK. BK’s philosophy is follow McD’s around. They have never been an innovator and seem to be content with that. The problem seems to be that they cant look past McD and realize current trends, which is what McD does. By the time they catch up to the current trends theres already a new one. Also McD’s menu is based on each geographical location. BK’s menu is the same everywhere. I also feel like McD’s promotes its charities (Ronald McDonald House) which makes us all feel better about spending our money there. Does BK even have one? McD’s is much more kid friendly which as we all know we usually go where our kids want to eat.

    I say to BK, get off McD’s coat tails and take some chances. Oh and get rid of those nasty fries and go back to stressing what you do have the market on, flame broiled, healthier burgers. Iam availible for consulting if needed. LOL

    • Wow Bob, that was some stinking awesome analysis. Coat tails, geography, charities, kids…, you really hit the nail on the head…Are you sure you’re a pool guy, or a restauranteer?? ;-)

      Great seeing you by buddy, come back soon. :-)

  15. Joe

    Not disagreeing with you but keep this in mind…# of BK’s in US=7,300 or so..
    McDonald’s= 30,000…so FB hits, tweets etc might be a little skewed…

    It’s funny but I like flame-broiled but my wife says it’s tastes lighter fluid…

    Just a few things for perspective…great Da Man..!!

    • Ha! Lighter fluid….I can see that Joe :-)

      But yes, you are right in terms of total stores, but then again, I think that actually just shows McD’s continued dominance, and in this case, it’s real estate.

  16. HaberneroHarry

    Marcus – I read the story last night and I the way to work I checked out both BK and McD and yep – you were right.

    One car at Bk and well over 10 in line at McD’s.

    You think they would have figured out that they (Bk) are moving in the wrong direction.

    Good Story,


    • That’s what’s crazy HH, it’s like the guys at BK haven’t learned poo in their 50 years of riding McD’s coat tails as Bob mentioned….and then they come up with these stupid, head-slapping advertising campaigns that give you the willies….

      Earth to BK marketing department, Are You Listening?? :-)

  17. UB Jammer

    A real hamburger consumer eats a Whopper. There is no comparison and your analysis of quality of food is bogus because all Mac’s has is a reputation of fries. No comparison to hamburgers, BK has the best tasting ones…hands down.

    • Apparently Jammer, you didn’t read the article. This isn’t a food analysis, it’s a marketing analysis. The problem with analyzing food is that everyone was born with a unique perspective called ‘taste buds’. Whereas with marketing, the numbers speak for themselves….and in this case….the numbers do not lie.

  18. James

    New leadership at BK will help with vision in the future!

  19. James

    Great days are ahead for BK!

    • I hope you’re right James, but who is the new leadership? Will they quite with the bogus and outright weird marketing strategy of Hootie and The Freaky King guy?? Let’s all hope so……

  20. Marcus – what is up with James? Is he the new VP of Marketing at Burger King?

    I guess the “free cup of Joe” promotion was going to turn the tide?

    Not sure what his point is but they got a lot of “Catchin up to do”!


    • Ha, that was funny HH….but you speak the truth man, ‘The King’ has a long ways to go if they want to sit on the throne. ;-)

  21. Could it also be that a McDonald’s is a more attractive and general sounding name, which is more suitable for a building a nice brand around it? It can be friendly, whereas Burger King is about some kind of king, of burgers. Doesn’t sound very friendly to me. What if he chops my head off?

  22. And the Burger King branding looks ridiculous to me, from what I saw on the net. The king itself. Who the hell wants to buy food from a plastic king with jewelry? I just don’t understand the appeal of it.

  23. Audrey – Did you ever see the TV commercial where the Guy wakes up and the “King” is in his bed?

    Wake up with the King was their slogan.

    Pretty creepy if you ask me.


    • HH and Andrey, you again have shown what a mulit million dollar ad agency for BK could not understand:

      Freaky looking plastic people freak people out.


      • It should be a common sense :)

  24. James

    You guys don’t know crap. I know he’s creepy, but BK marketing was voted top marketing of the decade. Sales were positive for the brand the past five years, and many stores are up double digits versus last year. So you got a outsiders opinion without really knowing the success or improvement of the brand. We will change many things that will keep the brand strong!

    • Well folks, it appears the head of the ‘Freaky King’ ad campaign has joined our little conversation ;-)

      Seriously James, relax buddy. We have fun on this blog, and burgers aren’t something to get your blood pressure up for.

      But you mention some stats here. So….where is the evidence? What link do you have for this ‘vote’ that was taken to give freaky king guy top marketing of the decade? If you had said ‘weirdest marketing of the decade’ or ‘most icky-feeling ad of the decade’ I would have understood, but ‘top’??? C’mon man, let’s get serious.

      Sales were positive Uhhmmm, compared to what? What do you mean by positive?

      I love your passion James, but bring a little facts in your next response, por favor ;-)

  25. James

    It’s all public info. Use google to get all the info. The brand is strong and will gain in the future. I hear the bogo chicken is really going well in the stores. They start the stuffed jalopeno cheddar thick burger in January. I’ve heard it is a awesome sandwich. Mcdonalds down 7% in November versus last year is what I read last week.

  26. Lefty Farkleberry

    Burger Blues

    Apparently, I can get a burger now
    At my local Mickey “D’s”,
    “Freshly” fried to order,
    Hold the lettuce, onions, pickles please.

    Then, take that savory Happy-slab
    Of ground-up cow on home,
    Park it for score of years,
    Until it resembles greasy Styrofoam.

    Wonder if an archeologist will find it,
    A fossilized Quarter Pound?
    And if Ronald, then, will want it back,
    To sell it one more round?

    Lefty Farkleberry

  27. Your article is biased

    The burger king guy is “freaky?” That sounds highly biased and opinionated. And he belongs on a rated R movie? I don’t even know where you pulled that out of, but it doesn’t even make sense. That would be like me saying Ronald mc Donald is a scary clown that is a pedophile. Stop being a fanboy for Mcdonalds, you should of stuck to facts.

    Other than that it was a nice article with lots of solid points.

    • Apparently you haven’t read everyone else’ opinion here—the Burger King guy is Freaky. At this point, that’s not even my opinion, it’s a societal fact. :-)

  28. Jen

    I’ve often wondered about franchise rules between the two.
    McDonald’s often seem clean – Burger King always looks dirty. It’s little things as well. Near my house I have one of each, the McD’s sign is always bright and shiney – the BK one has a lightbulb on the fritz and looks less-then-inviting.

    I think the other major factor for me in always picking McDonald’s….consistency.
    For the most part, a Filet-O-Fish tastes the same no matter where I go…and so does the Diet Coke. I haven’t had that same experience with the King.

    And I’m a big fan of nostalgia. I love the McDonald’s characters. The ham-burgler, the fry guys. It appeals to the kid me me…
    Damn…now I’m hungry.

    • You’ve brought up a ton of simple yet profound little examples of why McD’s wins the race again and again Jen. Sometimes we can’t explain why things are better, we just know they are. That’s exactly the case with the McD v BK debate.

      Thanks so much for stopping by Jen!


  29. The reason McDonald’s is better: “two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!”

    • Hahahaha, nice, very nice ;-)

      Thanks for stopping by!


  30. Tim

    I have to agree with you on McDs has always been the leader. BK has attempted to make some great ideas. There is one thing they still have better its that flame broiled taste but most of the time im not willing to wait the extra 5 minutes it takes to get it, never been to a BK that new the meaning of the term fast food.
    Some of BKs ideas if you have forgotten them tho are.
    “Have it your way. ”
    Way back in the 80s they made the chicken sandwich before mcdonalds I think but the MC chicken taste better.
    I remember they had a big promotion in the 80s or 90s to carry pepsi products but noticed its not that way anymore..

    I eat at them both several days a week with my travels. in my town we have the 2nd or 3rd largest mcDs and brand new BK one block apart.. McDs service is 10 times better.

    • Hey Tim, it sounds like your diet is almost as bad as mine ;-)

      But as a traveler, I’m sure you can agree with this statement— With McD’s, you can be pretty sure as to what the food is going to taste like each time. But with BK, it’s incredibly hit or miss. When they’re good they’re good. But when they’re bad, they’re REALLY bad!

      Thanks so much for stopping by Tim, hope you’ll make the trip over again in the future :-)


  31. Michael

    I don’t like either, really. But in a pinch, I find McD’s to be much, much faster. The breaking point for was when I went to a BK before work, waited 10 mins. behind 1 customer, and when I pulled up, the kid told me their credit card machine was down. When I said (admittedly angrily) that there were no signs, he got rude and said they had three signs. The only hint I had seen at a sign, was a piece of paper that was totally curled up.

    • Isn’t it funny how stories like that one follow BK all over the country Michael? It’s amazing how a culture of thousands of stores can be so broken.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!


  32. You missed:

    – Ubiquity
    – International presence

    MacDonalds kills BK on both.

    (And sorry – I didn’t read all 55 previous comments to see if these ideas were already represented.)

    • GREAT additions Paul…and I think you were the first on board with each. ;-)

      Much thanks for dropping by,


  33. The irony that you published this on Burger King’s Free Fries Friday isn’t lost on me. You raise some great points here, Marcus. Really astute observations.

    McDonald’s is a part of our culture. As you say, their branding is insanely smart and a part of our daily lexicon. I, for one, have given them a boatload of money on their McCafe products. That’s money they didn’t see from me before they launched their coffee line.

    As for product quality, I defy you to find a better french fry. Sure, according to Morgan Spurlock, they never get moldy and show no signs of anything natural, but you could say the same thing about most junk food.

    Great think piece, Marcus. Keep up the good work!

    • Hahhaha Amber, I didn’t know about the free-fries friday special…perfect timing!

      And I’m with you on the french fries– they’re awesome. In fact, the many of the same people that say they hate McD’s still go there regularly…Hmm, go figure ;-)

      So great to see you Amber, you rock girl!


  34. One reason McD crushes BK is because they start young! Happy Meals? Kids grow up loving McD’s. I don’t even know if BK has kids meals with cool toys.

    McD definitely evolves. Even though Starbucks was dominating coffee McD got into it and I’m pretty sure it’s a huge profit for them.

    And I really don’t like the scary BK King. Those commercials freak me out. I don’t understand the guy who doesn’t think he is. He must have the same thinking of the ad agency who thought having him in commercials would be brilliant!

    Now I feel like a good old Big Mac.

    • Yep, they do start young Benny. It’s amazing how my 4 year old knows all about McDonalds but if I mention BK to her she looks at me like I’m crazy. :-)

      As far as the BK King is concerned, that guy should go down as the worst marketing idea ever!

      Good to see you bud,


  35. Hi there

    Really interesting article and I think some of the points are absolutely spot on. I also like one of the comments made by a reader that McDs is a marketing specialist who just happens to sell burgers. Nice turn around.

    One point that comes to mind though is that you do have to look at the overall objectives and vision for the two companies. I don’t know for sure but there’s a good chance that McDs wants to be seen as an innovator and so puts a lot of effort and resources into such things as product development, leadership training, McDs university etc. The success has been there for all to see.

    But I’ve read elsewhere that Burger King has always been happy to play second fiddle to the Golden Arches. Maybe they are happy to invest less in such innovations that come as second nature to McDs. They do seem to wait for McDs to spend the time on research and development and then just copy them with their own menu items. True Burger King will never be as successful as McDs and wont have the same rep but they are still going strong by the looks of things, and maybe they have never really wanted to try and out do McDs – just claim their part of the market and go along copying and making some pretty good money.

    It’s an interesting look at things – one way of measuring success is to look at the overall company strategy and objectives and see whether the company is achieving them.



  36. Kendra

    I found this article very helpful and entertaining for me. I’ve been working at my local Burger King for almost 7 months, and boy do I tell ya the products and promotions need a total upgrade! Where I work there’s a McDonald’s right across the street, so competition is through the roof. My manager even forces our co-workers and friends to put Mcd’s bags into Burger King bags so as to not promote the competitor if we bring food over from across the street. No matter what, I always see the drive thru at Mcd’s swamped while I’m on my breaks, while Burger King has its busy times and its down times. What’s more is that I hear stories from my classmates who work at Mcd’s that they are clock in at their start time when they are suppose to, while no matter what time it is me and my co-workers are forced to sit and wait to be told to clock in. This constant struggle I’ve endured since the first day I worked at Burger King illustrates how Burger King is trying to hold on to as much profit as possible to advance over McDonald’s. Well, this particular strategy isn’t working because having to wait to clock in is the most ludicrous concept in the work world. Dangit, it should be outlawed lol! So, I just shake my head because Burger King is only trying so little to measure up to its competitor. McDonald’s has many more coffee, ice coffee, smoothie, and dessert options than Burger King, so I usually get the bulk of my desserts at Mcd’s. Your reasons were right on, a few of them actually being what I already had in mind of how McDonald’s always advances over Burger King. May I cite this article in a Creative Marketing Project I am doing on Burger King please?

    • Wow Kendra, now that’s a HECK of a comment! Sounds like you’re a serious business person and marketer in the making!!

      Please use this post however you’d like!



  37. Wow anyways I’m doing a project on is McDonalds better than Burger King and so far I’ve got nothing until i found this website. This has helped me a lil more with my speech all thanks to Marcus,Thank You so much for posting this infromation for all to view :)

    Jessica :)

    • Hahaha, glad I could help Jessica! Good luck with your project :-)


  38. Zaida

    Personally I am not a fan of fast food. I prefer home cooked meals but being a mom of two teenagers and after reading this article I asked them the big question: Which one do you prefer? The boy is into healthier stuff so even though he is not into fast food he picked Burger King. The girl, which is the youngest, doesn’t care about healthy eating so she picked Mc Donald’s. They both like to hang out with their friends at Mc Donald’s though.
    Mc D. restaurants are more elegant and comfortable. They go with the times and also added Internet access (WiFi) and they have TV’s. You can see a lot of teenagers just hanging out there after school hours. In the morning it is the hang out place for the elders.They all go there for their coffee, to watch the news and to meet with their friends since there is basically no kids around. So basically Mc Donald’s is pleasing everybody. Also, their seasonal items keep people expecting always something new.

    Mc Donald’s also gives back to the community. The Ronald Mc Donald’s House Charity (RMHC) makes an immediate, positive impact on children’s lives through their global network of Chapters in 56 countries and regions and through their three core programs: Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald Family Room and Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.
    They award grants to other nonprofit organizations that align with their mission to positively impact the health and well being of children.
    They are also committed to education. Local Chapters award thousands of scholarships each year through RMHC U.S. Scholarships to students entering college across the United States.

    So there is a couple more reasons why they are beating Burger King.

    • Wow Zaida, now those are some solid observations! I’m impressed ;-)

      Sounds like BK could use you!


  39. Bradlee TheDawg

    I agree with everything in your post – but there’s another intangible, and that’s pride in ownership of the McDonalds’ franchisees, and/or managers of the corporate stores. Generally speaking, McD’s are cleaner, better-kept, more organized, and less “grungy” than BKs. Sure there are exceptions, but not many. The second thing you missed is consistency. I’m not talking “quality” – I’m talking consistency. McD’s deliver one of the most consistent user experiences from store to store of any brand in any industry on the planet. For $5 we don’t expect much – but we expect what we expect.

  40. Micheal

    Hi Marcus, like everyone has said this is a nice post with good observations. I remember reading this post a few months ago before leaving my home country and thought that the comparative standards of the 2 restaurants must have just been different between NZ and the USA. While living in New Zealand I would generally avoid fast food and cook my own burgers, but still had a strong preference for Burger King (mainly due to the quality of NZ McDonald’s being shocking) . In New Zealand the BK restaurants have a cool 1950s retro look, with a much more relaxed atmosphere and friendlier service. The hygiene of both is usually pretty good.

    I moved to Indonesia three months ago and haven’t had access to a kitchen so have taken to eating out most nights. I live in the very center of Jakarta, and 5 mins from my house there are a BK and McD’s right next to each other. Mcdonald’s quality and service is just disappointing, similar to what I had been accustomed to back home. It is also slightly more expensive, and the burgers are considerably smaller.

    Burger King is amazing. Wow the burgers are like what I imagine Hamburger USA to have been like in the 70s and 80s before the gradual quality degradation and size reduction evolutionary process began. Everything is fresh, hot and tasty. There is a lot of lettuce in the burgers and the tomatoes are nice and juicy which is rare here. I eat there quite regularly just because it is a reasonable health alternative (believe it or not) to Indonesian food which generally has very high oil content and contains few vegetables. I have only been served warm (instead of fresh and hot) french fries there once even though I have eaten there 15+ times.

    On top of that the staff are well trained and friendly and the place is clean. They give you barbecue sauce, mustard or mayonnaise with your meal upon request. In contrast Mcdonalds charges if you ask for anything except ketchup and hot sauce. Also BK uses real chicken which you can strip apart and see the lines where the muscle has torn (like when you roast chicken at home) and McDonalds uses chicken nugget type sausage, which you can mush apart (same in NZ actually).

    I found myself thinking why is BK so much better than McDonalds, but McDonalds so much more successful than BK? I typed that into google and rediscovered your post.

    I totally agree with food quality not being a determinant in the success of a food company (because like you said, the numbers don’t lie) and at the same time I find it completely ridiculous. It is a food company after all!

    What have you marketers done to our brains Marcus? Are we enjoying a lower quality of life because we were trained from a young age to love something that doesn’t deserve our pure, unconscious and natural human approval?

    Jokes aside, many thanks for the interesting article and the comments that followed.


    • Wow, that’s one heck of a comment Micheal!

  41. Porpman

    I know this is an old article, and this is a minor detail, but I think it warrants being said: McDonald’s did not invent the fast food burger, nor was it the first chain. That was White Castle, decades ahead of McDonald’s: White Castle was founded in 1921 and opened its second location in 1922, and McDonald’s wasn’t founded until 1940. Even A&W was a franchise long before McDonald’s came into existence (about the same time as White Castle).

    Though McDonald’s may have more success than White Castle or A&W, they are a far cry from being anywhere close to the first.

  42. McDonalds and Burger King have the best toys. Wendys has the best food. I say this as a parent of a six year old boy. And it only regards fast food burger joints.

  43. Great marketing analysis, BTW, even without huge amounts of numbers.
    BK is not popular in my country at all. I even doubt if there’s more then one restraurant there.

  44. Divine

    What it comes down to to me is the quality of the main burgers. The whopper owns the entire Mcdonalds line up.

  45. Hector Blaschke

    Numbers don’t lie lol. Everytime people ask Mcdonalds vs Burger King on , Micky D’s wins.

  46. Darrel Davis

    Burger King’s menu is overall much more to my liking when compared to the menu at McDonalds. But every other aspect of McDonald’s operations far out performs Burger King. I have yet to encounter a Burger King employee or store that McDonalds would tolerate. Burger King has no idea what customer service is. It is sad to consider that so many young people get their first business experience as a Burger King employee.

  47. Chima Onukogu

    What i love McDonalds for is thier method of presentation when it comes to their products. Ive been to BK rarely as a form of experimentation to compare how they make their burgers the way thier commercial portrays it.

    What i got was complete……ugh…there was even a time i had piece of a lettuce ball in my burger and it just all looked so sloppy. Idk if i caught them at a bad day or what?

    McD on the other hand has always presented me with top notch looks on thier burgers. My favorite thing on the menu is called the Double Quarter pounder and lemme tell you, i always get it looking absolutly perfect, just like the commercial displays it. Same goes for Big Macs.

    In case no one has ever mentioned this, i feel McD outshines BK because of the pricing of their menu items. A top notch instant seller is McDonalds never failing “Dollar Menu” which is pretty badass and saves u money, only $1. I always go for the mcDouble as, in case no one has ever noticed, McD has the #6 Double Cheeseburger as a menu item, but that has the same size, taste, and ingredients as a Mc.Double. Idk what happend to the McDouble to make it just like the #6 on the menu, but that is incredibly fantastic. Burger Kings menu if i recall, has overpriced menus especially the whopper, which n my opinion is the only menu item that is saving BK from bankruptcy. Once u take out the whooper, ur done BK, done! There wa sa commercial about them not selling whoppers for 1 day and they got no business at ALL. Thats how u know BK sales revolves around the whopper only while McD has a variety of menu items that are key to their successes. Plus they have more short, sweet, to the point commercials whereas BK tries to hard with off-the-wall commercials with a really creepy faced mascot.
    I have a public speaking assignment and my topic is going to be over why McD > BK and i think i have my topics im gonna choose. I chose: “Menu flexibility, Pricing, and……..argh i forgot the third one

  48. Neil

    While what you say about MD and BK are quite valid, I would like to point out something …… (since I worked in BK for some years) (personally, I also think BK offers far better value than MD)

    MD has had management continuity …. if you look at the top man, there has been few and each of them have had a reasonably long innings … Ray Croc guided MD from 1954 to 1978 ….. then turner, then greenberg, ……

    Whereas BK has had a multiplicity of top management, ownership changes, buyouts, public offers, buyback, etc ….. for many years diageo, a liquor conglomerate held BK …. they didn’t know what to do with it and just let it slide away ….. obviously there wasn’t any single guy with a vision left who could run BK for some years at a stretch

    Seriously, I think BK dropped the baton, by their continuous management changes and ownership changes ….

    • Neil, that’s actually a very good point. Continuity is key, with great marketing. Banks so much for stopping by and adding your thoughts.


  49. Christopher Kandrat

    Burger king has always had more quality products at a higher price tag. The meat always seems more fresh but can’t compare to Wendy’s. While mcds seems less juicy and flavorful what venders are they using? With the low pricing its easy to ignore for some. But positive is mccafee who can hate ice coffee half the price as Starbucks.

  50. Tom

    Great piece – very true. Another lesson is how you don’t have to be the biggest boy in town to survive or maintain a decent enduring business. For me BK just ride along on McD’s coattails. The interesting thing is I believe the audience is pretty fickle making me wonder what BK could achieve if they properly addressed some of the issues you describe. For example, in an arena or airport where BK is present but McD’s is not I don’t think many consumers, if any, will give it a second thought either way if they’re in the market for a burger and fries at that moment: maybe Location, Location, Location is all that matters after all if McD’s do more than enough marketing to stoke desire for the generic product.

  51. Darrel Davis

    Burger King in this part of the country provides the poorest service you can imagine. On many visits there has been one cook and one person taking orders at the counter, taking orders from the drive-up, and serving food at both the counter and the drive-up window. The huge difference is expectations–McDonalds expects employees to perform and supervises and inspects. Burger King does not seem to care.

  52. Heatblizzard

    Mcdonalds along with others *Burger King* *Jack In The Box* in the 80s/90s used to serve full size breakfest and we would have them on vacations during the 90s in California.

    I can’t remember what Mcdonalds served but I do know Burger King and Jack in The Box has full sized meals that kept you filled till well past lunch time.

    We lived in Chico California area in the 90s and you used to be able to get regular pancakes with a choice of hash browns or eggs on the side. I remember having two pancakes and eggs which the eggs were really good for a fast food.

    They (The Breakfest) came in these white cardboard boxes that opened on the top and you’d get these little syrup things to pour in.

    PS. I don’t know why spell check doesn’t like the word Breakfest even though it’s a meal of the day. :P

  53. Felco

    Clown or king? I wouldn’t want my kids approaching either one.

    Personally I think BK tastes better.

  54. Greg

    I was looking for BK opening hours and came across this. Interesting read, but there are a couple of important aspects (at least as seen from a UK (that’s United Kingdom) perspective) I’d like to add. Food wise I much prefer BK’s products, but in terms of managing their business and brand BK gets it wrong at every turn.

    BK’s franchise terms are hopeless compared to MD’s. If you’re not already a multimillionaire (in ready cash) there’s no way you can get a BK franchise; in the UK you are required to open no less than eight BK outlets within two years, which is pretty much impossible, leading to very little or zero growth. Compare this with MD which is much, much more ready to help people get off the ground, with just one restaurant, and they get the numbers. Where I live in London there’s half a dozen MDs within a couple of miles, three of which are drive-through and two of which are 24-hour; in the same area are two BK’s, both inside shopping malls, both closing very early, and the nearest drive-through is about nine miles away.

    MD also gets the people. Making it much easier to become an MD franchisee means that MD franchise managers are ambitious, want-to-make-it people that often started on the ground; they’re personally involved, all the time, every day. BK franchise managers are business managers; they visit to talk to a supervisor now and then; they are not personally engaged.

    In turn, BK outlets are hugely variable in staff, cleanliness, and product preparation and quality, and it is rare to see a manager. MD is always clean and consistent, the food is always exactly as expected, and it is very common to see the manager on the floor, especially during busy periods.

    BK’s focus is money, MD’s focus is fast food; in fact, MD is fanatical about it. MD knows that the money will make itself if they do the fast food well. In a nutshell, fast food is the very reason for MD’s existence, whereas BK is a regular commercial venture that just happens to do fast food. BK has tried to implement an aggressive expansion plan by demanding much more from their franchisees than MD, but it has totally backfired. (I should add that it’s several years ago I looked at the franchise terms, and things may have changed.)

    If it wasn’t because, by some inexplicable miracle, BK’s products actually are better, BK would have been gone a long time ago.

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  56. john parkinrobinsin

    Every burger king I’ve ever been to in my area (outside philadelphia) is dirty. You walk in and you get the feeling the place hasn’t been cleaned in a week. It’s employees also act like they don’t care at all. Also, the breakfast is god awful! I went there today to give them one last shot, what a joke. I’ll never go back!

    Now contrary to this, this is a mcdonalds right next to this burger king. It’s newly renovated, clean, employees look like they give a shit, food is good. Breakfast is amazing like always. The burger king must provide no competition to this place it’s so obsolete lol.

    I hope burger king goes out of business, lets free up some real estate

  57. Good way of telling, and good post to take facts concerning my presentation topic,
    which i am going to convey in school.

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