Iconic Ads: Burger King – Have It Your Way

The Big Mac, is stored fully dressed, whereas the Whopper sits naked on its bun, waiting for the customer’s order.

McDonald’s was the undisputed king of burgers. In comparison to Burger King, they had more locations and a bigger market share. Burger King had the Whopper, which was a differentiator at the time, but it wasn’t enough as time went on.

McDonald’s was the first to introduce fast food. They started with a pretty basic need and a very fascinating statistic. When Americans go out to eat lunch, they order hamburgers 50% of the time. They also recognized that one of the issues that Americans had with this was that getting a hamburger took far too long. So they founded the entire fast food industry on those two aspects

Something more was uncovered by BBDO, the advertising agency for Burger King. Mcdonalds encountered a new challenge since had grown to maturity. Customers were unable to acquire it in the form they desired. McDonald’s pre-cooked all of their hamburgers and stacks them on a grill or under infrared lights. So if you requested them to leave off the pickle, lettuce, or anything, they would have to make one from scratch, and you would have to wait.

BBDO learned that Burger King builds these items on an assembly line, thanks to their chain broiler. In any case, they were all produced from scratch. And whether the chain contains cheese or not, or whether it has pickles or not, it takes the same amount of time to get through.

That’s exactly what BBDO accomplished. That’s how the line “Have it your way” was born.

The Thought

Richard “ Dick’ Mercer, the person who wrote this says in an interview .“That is the most famous thing I ever did, and the most successful thing I ever did. And I wrote that on April 1, 1974, in my study in Mendham, New Jersey. And the reason I know that is that in those days I used to take a percentage off of my income tax for my study that I used to work in. So my accountant said, “Well, you better have evidence of every piece of work that you’ve ever done.” So it was a Sunday, April 1st was a Sunday, and I wrote, “Have it your way. Have it your way. Have it your way at Burger King.”

He adds “I decided that was a piece of American slang, “have it your way,” that I could do something with. I thought that if I could take a piece of the language and turn it around and make it mean something good, because “have it your way,” and my clients were quick to tell me this, so were the account guys, “have it your way” is something you say when you’re teed off. Still can’t get used to today, people even on television say, “pissed off.” … I am so affronted and offended by that. That’s a terrible language, but they do … today, we’ve got a different culture. So you say have it your way when, “Alright, have it your way,” but I said if we can take this phrase and turn it around and make it mean something good, how wonderful that would be. So that’s why I wrote, “Have it your way.” Then I wrote, “Hold the pickles, add more lettuce. Special orders don’t upset us. All we ask is that you let us serve it your way.”

It was a hit with Burger King. “Forget that, add more lettuce,” they urged. Its’ “Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, we’re not adding anything.” They merely made that one alteration.

From there, Dennis Berger took over. None of the jingle writers could come up with catchy music. So Dennis picked up a guitar and began playing around with it. He wasn’t a particularly good singer, but he began singing the words in a melody that the creative director liked. And within a few days, he had completed the entire jingle.

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