For the first time since September, McDonald’s surpassed Burger King as a more “buzzed about” burger brand—but it’s still second to Wendy’s.

According to the YouGov BrandIndex, a consumer perception research service of brands, McDonald’s passed Burger King in May in the BrandIndex’s “buzz score,” which measures consumer feedback of brands. As of June 3, McDonald’s buzz score was 23.1 among burger consumers, while Burger King’s was 21.5.

Ted Marzilli, senior vice president and managing director of BrandIndex, says McDonald’s continued value messaging, as well as its expanded line of McCafe and Smoothie drinks, has helped boost the brand’s perception among consumers.

“Promotional marketing traditionally drives short-term buzz and drives traffic into stores, but more branding messaging and new products that don’t have a designed time period on them are things that are more long-term plays,” he says. “I think in the last few years you’ve seen McDonald’s reap the benefits of that strategy.”

The YouGov BrandIndex gauges consumer opinion daily by asking a sample of adults what positive or negative things they’ve heard about brands. Buzz scores range from 100 to negative 100, and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. Zero is equal positive and negative feedback.

Even though McDonald’s buzz score has been mostly increasing since the beginning of the year, Wendy’s own score sits at cozy 28.8, which Marzilli says is a testament to consumers’ perception of it being higher quality.

Marzilli says McDonald’s also has the handicap of being the biggest player in the quick-serve industry; any time fingers are pointed at fast food, like they have been recently in the healthy-eating debate, they usually get pointed at McDonald’s, he says.

But the recent increase it’s experienced in its buzz score, Marzilli says, speaks to the fact that McDonald’s is poised to withstand any negative publicity and maintain its position as a value leader.

“McDonald’s is the 800-pound gorilla in the category, and it can spend a lot of money on advertising, and it’s been investing in the brand in the last couple of years, even in a tough economy,” he says.

By Sam Oches

Burgers, Consumer Trends, News, Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's