No one likely would have a beef with declaring that Burger King is a bold burger brand. And the man behind that bold branding is Fernando Machado, the fast-food chain’s global chief marketing officer.
At the core of the Machado-led branding is playful marketing that’s intended to serve up a smile and chuckle — and stir up some chatter. The titles of some of Burger King’s recent marketing initiatives are amusing enough on their own, including “Proud Whopper,” “Burning Stores,” “Whopper Neutrality” and “Scary Clown Night.”
But in taking a fun-loving (and award-winning) approach with campaigns like “Google Home of the Whopper,” Burger King avoids grilling its rivals, according to Machado.
“We try to be respectful, we try to not get divisive, we try to not come across as bullying, like not bashing [the] competition,” Machado told Business Insider. “Even when we do something funny with a competitor, or we challenge Google or whoever, we do it in a way that has wit, that it’s fun and it’s a bit silly, and I think that people are more open to the things we do because of that.”
During an &THEN keynote speech, Machado will share his philosophies on marketing. And he knows a thing or two about striking the right chord, as Burger King has scooped up a number of honors for its sizzling advertising.
For instance, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in 2017 named Burger King its Creative Marketer of the Year.
“Burger King is a brand that’s built a reputation for marketing campaigns that are bold, courageous and innovative, constantly challenging the limits of creative excellence,” says Philip Thomas, CEO of Ascential Events, the owner of Cannes Lions. “Burger King believes that being a brand with purpose can achieve long-term advantages and deliver strong business results. That’s why the company is making such an impact.”
Machado and the rest of the Burger King marketing team definitely made an impact with the chain’s “McWhopper” campaign. The 2015 campaign, featuring full-page ads published in The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune, urged archrival McDonald’s to team up with Burger King to sell — for one day at one restaurant — a Big Mac-Whopper mash-up called the McWhopper.
While the McWhopper never materialized, the effort earned Burger King loads of attention in the mainstream media and on social media.
Machado told Business Insider that the McWhopper undertaking helped “foster brand love and get the brand at the center of pop culture.”
“It’s kind of … the formula that we have for our brand, and it’s the formula that has been working quite well,” Machado said.
That formula pairs well with Burger King’s brand, just like ketchup pairs well with mustard on a Whopper.
“If you think … beyond just the sandwich, we are the brand that puts the crown on everyone’s head,” Machado said. “We are the brand that allows you to have it your way, which basically means respect for the individual. So, our brand, yes, it has great products, but it also has the latitude to play on a bigger emotional space. So, when we find an idea or a cause or a topic that we feel we can play a role in a positive way, why not?”
That “Why not?” attitude extends to Machado’s response to criticism that Burger King merely stages PR and marketing stunts.
“It doesn’t bother me, because doing something different will always raise some eyebrows, and we are always trying to do something different,” he told Business Insider. “Why go for the status quo when I’m not the largest brand in the pack? I need to stand out, we need to stand out as a brand. So haters gonna hate.”
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