A few years ago, the world was introduced to arguably the creepiest fast food mascot of all time: The King. For many of us, this introduction came courtesy of a frightening commercial suggesting that we "Wake Up With The King." Over the following years, TK expanded his popularity. He went from our bedrooms to our football fields (other examples here and here). Eventually, TK became less about burgers, and more about celebrity. He became more than a mascot, inviting (fake) controversy and spawning imitators. As a matter of fact, he has become immensely popular with 114,000 My Space friends.
So, the moral of the story is that Burger King has done an incredible job of product promotion here and companies should do whatever they can to establish their symbol as a pop-culture icon, right?
Maybe. Consider the following: what if TK eventually becomes such a pop culture icon that he no longer represents Burger King. Stated differently, what if the public appropriates TK for its own uses such that he can no longer be considered an indicator of source for Burger King’s goods and services? Could we be looking at the first case of trademark regicide, as opposed to trademark genercide? I would say that we have a ways to go at this point. Nonetheless, I think it’s a realistic possibility given today’s viral marketing environment.