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  • Forfatters billedeMark Hallander

5 learnings from Brand of the Year: Burger King

The fast-food chain and challenger brand have seen an extraordinary turnaround in their marketing efforts. From conform and ordinary advertising to brave campaigns that have earned them several Cannes Lions. But how exactly did they manage a turnaround that made them the brand of the year, again? I look at their advertising development and collect advice from their Global Chief Marketing Officer.


As a part of my job as a Strategic Planner, a visited the Most Contagious in London – a seminar about the biggest marketing trends, new innovations, and strategies behind some of the best performing campaigns in 2018. Contagious is an intelligence unit that supports the marketing and advertising industry with creative insights through the company’s online platform, a quarterly magazine, live events, and advisory services. At the seminar, I got to see a presentation from one of my favorite challenger brands – and the brand of the year – Burger King.


Living up to the task: A true challenger brand

Although McDonald's is the clear leader of the fast-food war with a 19% market share compared to Burger King's 5%, according to Nasdaq, the latter is living up to the challenger title. At Most Contagious event, their charismatic Brazilian CMO, Fernando Machado, took the stage to discuss Burger King’s marketing strategy, boundless creativity, and all the great ways they’ve trolled McDonald’s in their advertising.


Let's take a look at their development.


Lazy advertising

In this ad from 2013, the lead singer of the popular rock band Aerosmith, Steven Tyler, is taking on the role of a Burger flipper. The creative approach is, quite frankly, very boring. We see a few jump cuts of Tyler creating a big fuss in the restaurant with his out-and-about rock star mentality while he endorses the Burger King product. This is the unfortunate result of turning to conformity when working with marketing. And this particular execution is lazy, to say the least, and not very brave.


Fast forward to 2014, where Fernando Machado enters. With a background from Unilever and as the former VP of Global Brand Development for Dove, he has become well known for pushing the creative boundaries to drive business growth. And since getting him on board, Burger King has seen a huge increase in Cannes Lion awards, which can be seen as a global benchmark for effective creative marketing communication. He emphasized that he has been on a mission to infuse the brand with purpose, modernizing the design, and inspiring the organization around the brand development.


The Dogpper

Gone are the days of lazy advertising and brave ads enter. This ad plays on a funny insight into consumers' love for their pets and creates a cleaver link to the hero product: The Whopper.


Chocolate Whopper

On the 1st of April, Burger King celebrated with the launch of a new product: The Chocolate Whopper. Social media exploded with reactions to this April's fool joke - and you can understand why. It looks delicious...


The Whopper Detour

The most recent Cannes Lions winner took customers on a smart detour. Via the Burger King app, consumers could download the Whopper for a penny - only they had to do it at McDonald's. With an enormous amount of generated impressions, app downloads, and sales, this is a true masterpiece of trolling a competitor.


At the Most Contagious, Fernando Machado had 5 recommendations to help create greater brand engagement.


1. Understand your brand His first advice was to really get into the core of the brand DNA. What is your brand about? Why is there power behind it? When he got the job at Burger King, people told him it was the Whopper, but digging deeper into its core, he found that it very much revolved around the occasion – with a case in point being the customers' obsession with the Burger King crown. The brand respected individuality with the pay-off “Have it your way”, while its personality was crazy, fun, and challenger mindset.

2. Create a great brief Creating a proper brief for your agency partner is self-explanatory. Or is it? The way you create the brief can certainly vary, and Fernando’s point was that long and very specific briefs are not necessarily the most effective ones. Long detailed briefs are not necessarily better if you don’t know what you want. Burger King’s best briefs were actually quite simple, like “Let’s encourage people to be their way” or “Showcase Whopper Love”.

3. Let the idea grow He also emphasized that the industry has a tendency to reject ideas to quickly. Small ideas haven’t had time to grow and they are therefore loaded with uncertainty. But this is not a bad thing, as we need to be brave. We need to trust this uncertainty in order to create something new. See also Brand Bravery - a key to creativity in advertising.

4. The biggest risk is not taking any risk Risk is a part of the job, and you may as well do something different. Being afraid before launching a new campaign is totally normal, and you should do it – even when you are afraid. Fernando pointed out that a brand like Pepsi saw huge criticism for the spot with Kendall Jenner, but their image and sales did not take a hit.

5. One team The advertising industry also has a tendency to see the client as the superior part of the relationship. This is far from the case, and when you realize it, you make the basis for a greater collaborative team. Being one team, sharing information, and challenging each other is key to success.


"If you want to do something different, take a risk" - Fernando Machado

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