Monday, February 4, 2008

Dan Cortese as Burger King Spokesman (1992)

"BK TeeVee, I love this place!"

Time was, Dan Cortese of MTV Sports became the official spokesperson for Burger King's television advertisements. In so doing, Cortese, attempting hipness in the most goofy of ways, interacted with everyday customers and employees, all the while exclaiming, "I love this place!" If you watched television in the early 1990s, you could not escape this ad campaign.

Forgotten fact: Burger King offered popcorn to patrons waiting for their food.

Surprisingly, these commercials, once so ubiquitous, have little presence on the Internets. Nevertheless, Chronological Snobbery has cobbled together a few that do exist online to create this entry dedicated to a once annoying, now nostalgic consumer culture campaign.

"They give you popcorn, just to chill with."

"If you loved the movie, you'll love the cup!"

"What's up with that?"

"It's table service!"

Believe it or not, Burger King's advertising strategy in this campaign was a significant enough change of pace to warrant coverage in the paper of record, The New York Times. In late 1992, the NYT's Adam Bryant reported:

In Burger King's current marketing campaign, an MTV host, Dan Cortese, declares, "I love this place," as he mugs his way through a series of rapid-cut ads pitching the fast-food chain's new table service.

Now that Burger King has been running its "BK TeeVee" campaign for a couple of months, it seems fair to ask whether others are embracing Burger King and its table service as eagerly as Mr. Cortese, who in the ads elicits enthusiastic reviews from the customers and crew members he interviews in Burger King outlets.


Other than saying Burger King's dinner-time business has jumped and the dinner-basket promotion has exceeded expectations, [Burger King's marketing czar Sidney J. Feltenstein] is not sharing proof of how well the ads are playing in the hearts and stomachs of fast-food fans.

If nothing else, Mr. Feltenstein can pat himself on the back for working Burger King onto the radar screens of the late-night hosts David Letterman, who has chided the ads as annoying, and Jay Leno, who took a camera crew to a Burger King for a "Tonight Show" segment.


Some franchisees and industry watchers have criticized the BK TeeVee campaign as too focused on the younger set, thereby missing the slightly older crowd for whom table service might hold some appeal. But Mr. Feltenstein shrugs off the notion, saying Burger King is drawing customers of all ages. "Some people have perceived a weakness in this campaign that it is so focused" on MTV-age viewers, he added. "But one of the strengths is that it appeals to broader demographics."1

(See also here2 and here3 for additional NYT reporting on Burger King's early 1990s advertising).

In 1993, Cortese told Entertainment Weekly: "Burger King, that's not how I act in real life. Sometimes , people call out, 'Dan, Dan, the Whopper Man!' I go, 'Yeah, right, thank you.'''

So what is the former Burger King pitchman up to these days? Cortese was recently cast as the host of the new reality show, "My Dad is Better Than Your Dad." (Link courtesy of TV Tattle, which also linked one of the commercials above).

1. Adam Bryant, "The Media Business; Advertising; Official Tries to Reverse Burger King's Marketing Record," New York Times, December 17, 1992.
2. Stuart Elliott, "The Media Business; Advertising; Once Again, Burger King Shops for an Agency," The New York Times, October 21, 1993.
3. Stuart Elliott, "The Media Business: Advertising; D.M.B&B. Promotes to Executives to Shore Up Basics," The New York Times, November 6, 1992.


Steven said...

Last we forget, Cortese had a role on an episode of Seinfeld where his love of extreme sports let to the phrase "extreme bowling" being uttered and giving the world a glimpse of Michael Richards' yodeling prowess.

Anonymous said...

Thank god the "Zero Effect" week is over.

Anonymous said...