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German undercover reporting hits Burger King

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Fri, 30/05/2014 - 14:00
Burger King

German TV station RTL broadcast its ‘Team Wallraff’ undercover reporting on Burger King on April 28th. German viewers were shocked to see rotten lettuce on burgers after perishables were simply relabeled as they moved past their sell by date. Intestinal bacteria was found in the food and employees were seen cleaning toilets in their kitchen clothing.

Four weeks after the broadcast– which is no longer available on the RTL website – Burger King’s brand health measures dropped significantly. Before the broadcast Burger King had an Index Score of +3 points, the current Index score is just -30 points (on a scale from +100 to -100 points). Although scores appeared to bottom out two weeks after broadcast they are still showing little sign of recovery. BrandIndex Index scores, measure brand health by averaging metrics on quality, satisfaction, impression, value, reputation and willingness to recommend.

Ongoing media coverage of temporary branch closures and the dismissal of a large franchisee’s CEO have ensured Burger King remained a trending topic for several weeks. Word of Mouth scores jumped from 16 to a high of 38 points. Purchase Consideration scores were cut in half dropping to 16% (of those who are familiar with the brand) from 30% six months ago – and indicative of a likely drop in Burger King’s sales.

McDonalds, however, has not reaped any benefit from Burger King’s current issues in Germany. Instead, consumers seem to have lost their appetite for fast food burger chains. Index scores for McDonalds dropped from +11 points to -2 points within just three months – experiencing the greatest loss right after the Burger King documentary was aired. Until recently 45% of those who know McDonalds considered buying their food when they were next in the market dine outside the home. That number has decreased to 35 %.

McDonalds did experience its own media crisis when German news magazine Spiegel reported that McDonalds would no longer abstain from using genetically modified animal food in poultry breeding. However, given the timing of the drop in McDonald’s ratings, the RTL coverage seems to be the primary cause of the drop.

Burger King is currently working on damage control and is considering putting the TÜV (the German independent Technical Inspection Association) in charge of reinforcing controls. Disputes with employees are to be settled. Not only Burger King but the whole industry will have to find a way to regain customer loyalty.

Burger King: Index, WOM, Purchase Consideration, McDonald's: Index
Burger King: Index, WOM, Purchase Consideration, McDonal's: Index
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