Burger King is on a growth tear thanks to its buzzy marketing. Here's the internal memo sent by CMO Fernando Machado that reveals its secret sauce.
- Burger King regularly wins awards for its marketing campaigns, which took 40 at Cannes this year including the Creative Brand of the Year.
- In a memo that Burger King CMO Fernando Machado sent to parent company Restaurant Brands International’s internal network this week, he credited the wins to five things the company did that “helped unlock [its] creative potential.”
- Machado encouraged employees to start small; ensure that campaigns have measurable outcomes; learn to withstand criticism and drawbacks; work more closely with agencies and other teams; and develop the right creative talent.
- Business Insider asked Machado to elaborate on his tips in an interview. Read the full memo below.
- Click here for more BI Prime stories.
Burger King regularly turns heads with its marketing campaigns — whether it’sroasting celebrities on Twitter orhacking a new technology to throw shade at a competitor.
The work helped the burger chain win 40 awards at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this year, including Creative Brand of the Year.
In a memo that Burger King CMO Fernando Machado sent out across parent company Restaurant Brands International’s internal network this week obtained by Business Insider, he reflected on the wins and credited them to five things that the brand did that “helped unlock [its] creative potential.”
Machado encouraged employees to start small; ensure that campaigns have measurable outcomes; learn to withstand criticism and drawbacks; work more closely with agencies and other teams; and develop the right creative talent.
“None of this is rocket science. And it shouldn’t be. But believe me when I say it’s not easy to make it happen either,” Machado, who has also taken over the marketing duties at fellow RBI brand Popeye’s until it finds a CMO, wrote.
Machado elaborated on his tips in an interview with Business Insider.
Burger King has made impact with a relatively small marketing budget
Burger King wasn’t always synonymous with innovative and wacky advertising campaigns. After noted marketing campaigns likeSubservient Chicken in 2005, the company went through a lull, which changed with small steps, wrote Machado.
“We’re not the biggest spender — the largest fast food brand is probably 4 times my size — so I’m not going to win by counting on my spend,” Machado said, without specifying Burger King’s budget. “I need creativity to be my dollar multiplier.”
He cited two Cannes Lions award winners —Hamberders, in which Burger King ribbed President Donald Trump for misspelling “hamburgers” as “hamberders,” and “Explains a Lot,” in which it roasted Kanye West for calling McDonald’s his favorite restaurant — as low-investment campaigns.
Machado also stressed the importance of tying marketing to business objectives. Whopper Detour wasn’t just an attempt to promote Burger King over McDonald’s but a way to get people to download its app. The campaign drove more than 1.5 million app downloads andwon a Grand Prix.
“While I am flattered by the creative awards, my bonus is not tied to that — it’s based on driving bothtop and bottom-line growth,” he said. “And we’ve grown double digits in two of the last four years and high single digits in the other two in terms of total system sales — an average increase of 9.5%.”
The company fosters collaboration among its teams and agencies
While other brands areincreasingly in-housing work and using fewer agencies, Burger King hasalways used a range of agencies in addition to its internal marketing team.
“We didn’t win 40 Lions with one single big idea. We had 15 ideas getting at least a shortlist,” Machado wrote in the memo. “Ideas from different countries. Ideas from different agencies. The whole team contributed.”
Burger King lets each marketing team by country pick the agency it works with, and if anyone thinks they have a campaign that can transcend boundaries, they can contact Machado directly on a 100-person WhatsApp group.
Machado said he also has his team collaborate with other teams at Burger King to speed decisions. The legal team, for example, is now looped in from the start for a campaign like Whopper Detour.
Not all its campaigns are hits. Some criticized Burger King’s “Real Meals” campaign as trying to latch on to Mental Health Awareness Month,as CNBC reported.
Machado acknowledged in the memo that not all things will go according to plan but that it’s part of taking risks.
Read the full memo below:
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