Industry News | May 8, 2009

Who Owns National Hamburger Month?

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Sandwiched between the official Pets Are Wonderful Month (April) and Turkey Lovers Month (June), there’s a little known holiday that two strikingly similar fast food brands want consumers to be aware of.

May is National Hamburger Month, and 387-unit Krystal and 418-unit White Castle are celebrating—separately.

Krystal’s campaign centers around social networking Web sites Facebook and Twitter and offers followers and friends the chance to win a $50 Krystal gift card each day of the month. White Castle on the other hand is inviting consumers to share their best sliders crave stories for the chance to be inducted into the Cravers Hall of Fame by the chain’s CEO.

“It started back in 1992,” says Kim Bartley, vice president of marketing for White Castle.

And therein lies the problem. Seventeen years ago Brantley claims she invented National Hamburger Month.

“We thought it would make sense as the original hamburger chain to initiate National Hamburger Month,” she says of the nearly 90-year-old brand.

Fast forward to today and one of the brand’s most similar competitors is right along celebrating with them.

“I love controversy,” says Krystal’s vice president of marketing, Brad Wahl, who says he was unaware of White Castle’s claim over the month.

“I certainly don’t think it will be confusing for consumers,” he says. “I think it helps both of us to a degree. It really could go in a lot of fun directions.”

Both chains seem to be taking the overlapping celebrations with a good sense of humor and the occasional jab at the competition. White Castle refers to Krystal as “that other chain that’s 11 years younger,” and a Krystal spokesman was quick to point out that his brand is the one offering free food to customers to celebrate.

“Obviously we took it as a compliment to our creativity,” says Brantley in regards to Krystal’s attempt to hijack the month from White Castle.

While it’s undecided whether Krystal will celebrate National Hamburger Month again next year, White Castle’s Brantley says her brand will continue celebrating its month for years to come.

Neither brand has plans to lay claim to any other months any time soon. But Krsytals’ Wahl says with a laugh that he’ll “be sure to check with White Castle to see what month they’ve already named” before the brand makes any decisions.

--Blair Chancey