Angry Whopper anyone?
To make sure people got the message, Burger King Corp. hosted an “angry shouting challenge” contest in downtown Tokyo, in which passers-by were invited to scream their frustrations away.
“I need to get a girlfriend,” a man yelled at the top of his lungs in an effort to win the prize, a year’s worth of Whoppers. “Professor, give me my credits,” exclaimed another.
The 460 yen (R38) Angry Whopper, introduced in December in the U.S , has jalapeno chili peppers and hot sauce, as well as a burger patty, onions, cheese, bacon, tomatoes and lettuce on a sesame seed bun.
Burger King Japan President Hitoshi Arimoto said it was the perfect flavour for riding out the economic downturn.
“The Angry Whopper is landing in Japan,” he told a crowd in front of the 109 shopping complex in Shibuya, a district popular with trendy youngsters.
But Burger King, the world’s No. 2 hamburger chain with 11,600 restaurants around the world, is a tiny player in Japan, with just 16 stores, mostly in Tokyo and surrounding areas.
Angry Whopper vs Big Mac
It faces intense competition from McDonald’s Corp., with 3,750 stores nationwide and 30,000 globally.
Burger King withdrew from the Japanese market in 2001, partly after losing a price war with McDonald’s, but returned to Japan in 2007, for another crack at the world’s second-largest economy.
Food business consultant Jotaro Fujii says the competition in Japan’s burger business is heating up because the nation now has a whole generation of people who grew up on McDonald’s.
“McDonald’s controls about 65 percent of the Japanese market,” he said. “The new market is more expensive with paddies about twice the size of a McDonald’s burger.”
Burger King is on the high-end of the cheap burger market that is McDonald’s strength, he said.
But its sales growth at established locations has trailed McDonald’s, which has reported strong sales in recent quarters as people look for cheap meals in a global slowdown.
Cunning Takeyama, a comedian at the Burger King event, stomped his feet and broke into a sweat after taking a few bites of the Angry Whopper.
“It’s hot,” he shrieked.