Burger King and AOL have announced an Internet marketing initiative. The struggling burger chain is the latest consumer company to strike a multimedia, multimillion-dollar, multi-year marketing deal with the Internet giant. Although Burger King will undoubtedly pay top dollar for the privilege, the deal should drive the "You've got Burger King" message home for today's tech savvy, fast food dependent youth population.

Since assuming the top post earlier this year, Burger King CEO John Dasburg has been on a mission to reinvigorate the chain's US business - representing roughly 80% of the company's global profits - in preparation for a long-overdue spin-off from the company's London-based parent, Diageo.

On Monday, the number two US burger chain announced another concrete step in that direction, an Internet marketing initiative with media conglomerate AOL Time Warner that would give its customers access to special features in AOL publishing, broadcast, music, film and online media. According to Mr Dasburg, "By combining our brand with AOL Time Warner's top-drawer content and media distribution strengths, we will reach the widest audience in the online and offline worlds."

The pact is the latest in a string of deals by AOL Time Warner this year, aimed at bucking the downward economic trend through broad agreements with consumer companies willing to pay top dollar for access to AOL's 12 million daily customers. In May, Coca-Cola forged an alliance with AOL reportedly valued at $64 million for online and offline marketing efforts. Two months later, Nestle USA formed a similar pact to promote Friskies Petcare products.

The deal would include such perks as digital codes with each purchase that would allow Burger King customers access to special Internet sites and the opportunity to participate in various sports and music promotions. The Burger King brand will also be promoted across AOL Time Warner's range of television, print and online media under the agreement.

With fries or without, this agreement is certainly a whopper that will go. AOL Time Warner, one of the Internet's three heavyweights alongside MSN and Yahoo!, has been flexing its marketing muscle since the completion of its $106.2 billion dollar merger in January. And Burger King, like other top consumer brands, is in desperate need of increased online exposure to reach its target, tech-savvy teenage demographic. Coming soon to a computer, magazine, and movie near you: You've got Burger King!

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