God Bless America: Barbie wins Whopper.

retail brand design/Burger King-Whopper Bar

Burger King’s claim yesterday to the Retail Store of the Year 2009 competition awarded by US publication Chain Store Age, certainly made me curious. It so turns out that Burger King won the ‘Casual Dining’ category, making their announcement an exaggeration of convenient proportions.

More frustrating is that Chain Store Age runs the program as an open award to the industry globally, and while it kindly includes an international category, (although it is not clear if this refers to non-American clients or projects executed outside of the US), of the 19 first place winners (pardon?) and 7 ‘Honorable Mentions’, 21 are from the US.

Is it unsurprising, therefore, that Barbie… yes, Barbie in Shanghai won the ‘Best Overall Entry’ award trumping Burger King, Walmart, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, Barney’s, American Eagle Outfitters and the rest, with a 36,000 square foot, multi-level emporium launched March 9, 2009. Gotta love it! In all honesty it is pretty fabulous and no doubt still looks brand new.

Barbie Shanghai store

Barbie Shanghai store

But why did Walmart win two awards? I’m not doubting the judging process but believe it or not great retail exists in both Asia and Europe too. Come on Chain Store Age, it’s dangerous to be parochial in consumer-land which, let’s remind ourselves, is a global concern. Hopefully next year you’ll look a bit further afield and honor a better mix. The three Canadian, two South American and one Thai project you bothered to include reeks of tokenism.

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