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Zee Melt 2018: How Burger King turned around its marketing story

When Fernando Machado, Global, Chief Marketing Officer, Burger King, joined the fast food brand, they were not bringing their A game in marketing. But about four years down the line, not only are they swooping awards functions, the business is about four times of what it used to be

Fernando Machado

Any one following Burger King’s recent marketing initiatives can vouch for the fact that the brand seems to have hit the marketing sweet spot. But till a few years ago, that was not the case. Fernando Machado was working with Unilever when he decided that he needed a change and a brand that he had always admired was the fast food brand Burger King.

Despite his love of the brand and the work it did, when Machado joined the brand they were not bringing their A game in marketing. But about four years down the line not only is Burger King swooping awards functions but the business is about four times of what it used to be.

Machado, Global, Chief Marketing Officer, Burger King, in a no-holds-barred session at Zee Melt 2018, spoke about why marketers need to be afraid and how nothing worth having has ever come risk-free.

“Be afraid, if you are afraid but do it. Because if I am not afraid, then probably the idea is far too common and one shouldn’t be doing work that doesn’t stand out or that’s too boring. If you are doing that, then you are helping your competition who is the number one in your category,” said Machado.

Here are five things according to Machado that can help marketers cope with fear and ace the marketing race:

Understand your brand:

It is just not about doing great work or taking risks, it is also about understanding one’s brand and whether the risk will pay off.

“We can condense our positioning into three points. The first being Perfectly imperfect; which basically means everything is raw and real and not fake and cosmetic. Second is the Crown, which is a very powerful equity of the brand and which means that we welcome everyone. The third one is have it your way of thinking which represents our respect for individuality,” said Machado.

Whenever Burger King does anything, they ensure that it matches these points.

Create a great brief:

Everything starts from a brief and therefore it has to be great. Having seen a fair share of bad briefs in his career, Machado believes that long winded briefs don’t work because nobody has the time to read. A brief has to be short, precise and on point.

“A good brief is single minded, sharp and insightful and therefore our briefs are one-line briefs,” said Machado.

Let the idea grow:

Machado is a great proponent of trusting uncertainties. He believes that one must trust in the idea no matter how preposterous it sounds and give it time to grow.

“If you are uncertain about something, then it means that it hasn’t been done before. You are only certain about things because you have done it couple of times,” said Machado.

The biggest risk is not taking any risk:

“A lot of people come and ask us aren’t you afraid? I think people who ask us that question, clearly don’t understand us. It is not that we aren’t afraid. We are afraid every time but the thing is if I am not afraid then it probably is not going to work,” said Machado.

According to Machado, all the ideas that have worked for them were a pain to get an approval for and therefore he is sceptical of anything that comes too easily.

The second question that Machado gets asked often is what if you go wrong? In this world of social media nothing lasts forever, explains Machado, not even embarrassments and goof-ups. Everything will tide over and one has to keep trying.

One team:

There are two parts to working in tandem says Machado. The first one is the entire marketing team working as one and the second is working with the agency as one.

“At Burger King, we are one marketing team. I have a WhatsApp group that has 120 people and we are sharing things all the time. I talk to my agency guys all the time, we are basically one team because if you have to fight you must have people who think alike,” said Machado.

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