Fernando Machado & Dave Trott break down brand purpose & strategy

Globally, Burger King is in the news for its ‘Impossible Whopper’ burger made of plant-based meat substitute. Even while in its test phase, Burger King reported 18.5 per cent increase in foot traffic in the US in April 2019. Though yet to be introduced in India, the “meatless meat’ burger could find many takers amongst the largely vegetarian population. 

Leading Burger King’s charge and taking several potshots at rival MacDonald’s is Fernando Machado, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Burger King. While breaking down brand purpose and shedding light on the successful marketing strategy for the Whopper at Zee Melt 2019, Machado said, “Brands are more than the products they sell.” He further said, “These days what matters is how fun and edgy the brand is as that’s what people connect with, resulting in our advantage, which summarises the brand positioning.” 

Read more: If you do just digital, ROI can go horribly wrong - Punit Misra

He also had a word or two about expensive and glossy-looking ads as he said, “If it’s just an ad, it’s not going to have longevity.” According to Machado, one can’t just launch an ad and expect steady results. He observed that a key part of an advertisement is the design structure, but nowadays people in the field of advertisement tend to believe in visibility more than in quality – such as, bigger the logo, better the brand. “Advertising is said to be the most glamorous part of brand positioning, but the reality is that every single touch point communicates,” he noted. 

Machado pointed out that in an ad, there are around 8 segments of individual designs which should be taken care of and not be generic. “The problem with being generic is that it doesn’t differentiate you from the others; this generation is full of competitive people and you need to be unique and creative in order to stand out amid the crowd and avoiding generic content is the best solution to it. The content needs to be quick, essential quality, which means unique and something that has not been done before,” he added. 

Speaking about Whopper’s success, he shared that when Burger King carried out a survey on what people thought about the brand, the most common response they got was the “Whopper Burger”. “When asked what is a Whopper burger? To our shock their explanation sounded like the unscripted version of the commercial! They had been watching for the product,” he recalled. 

He also highlighted the importance of design in helping the brand create a connect with the consumers – be it package designs, staff uniform designs, the way the posters look, coupons, etc. “Many brands don’t have enough budget to go on TV and that’s when they should work on rebuilding the designs and creating a visual identity for their brand which is more raw and real,” Machado advised. 

He also underscored the role of Digital and PR in driving the traffic that brands need to reach out to people. 

Machado informed that for Digital and PR, Burger King has three filters:

  • What the idea is all about?: Here we make sure that the idea explains and acts upon one thing only without creating any complexity. 
  • Will people talk about it?: Here we need to create traffic for the brand. 
  • Will the market write about it?: The ad or the campaigns should be so impactful and unique that the news organisations and magazines must write about it as we want more and more people to talk about it.

“If these three filters are followed, then the level of engagement that the people will have for the brand will increase, thus resulting in the rise of sales,” he added. 

According to Machado, there are 5 things that marketers need to keep in mind for successful brand positioning:

  • Know your brand and the positioning of your brand.
  • Always opt for either positive or negative positioning, because generic content never helps in brand building.
  • Nail your basics first and only then move on to additional things because if the basics aren’t done right then the brand positioning is of no use.
  • There are things you need to do that you are really scared of as it will make you look unique and different. If you only take help from the resources and not explore for better opportunities it means you are not following the quick essential quality method which is a disadvantage.
  • More you win more the creative guys would want to work with you so be creative and create traffic, provide unique formats and create designs that will be noticed for the agencies to remember your name.

“The curves have changed drastically in the last four years, not only in the field of advertising, but also in marketing, television, print, etc.,” Machado concluded.  

Strategy is sacrifice: Dave Trott

Creative director, Copywriter, and Author Dave Trott has a simple yet profound observation – “Stupid people think complicated is clever. Smart people keep it simple.” 

This simply outlook permeates Trott’s advice to marketers and creative honchos. Before finding elaborate solutions, he suggests getting the problem right first and foremost. To support his thought, he quoted what Einstein had said about problems: “If the world was going to end and I had an hour to save it, I would spend 50 minutes on the problem and 10 minutes on the solution, because if I got the problem right, the solution would be easy. But if I didn’t get the problem right, there wouldn’t be a solution.” 

Trott stressed that the issue is to simplify the problem down to what is usable. “We focus on all the unimportant parts because we feel it should be complicated and it makes us look clever. We are more focused on making ourselves look intelligent than getting the right solution,” he noted. 

Continuing further Trott said, “Consequently, we are now seduced by technology and new thinking along with jargon that we throw in as much as we can to look intelligent. Today, a creative in an ad agency when asked what their job is, will tell you that its content curation, algorithms, native advertising, story-telling, rich media solutions, memes or they might tell you its SEO, CRN, CSR, CTR, CMX, UGC. Now, for my money, the only 3 letters missing is WTF!” 

“That’s not our job. That’s just a load of technical people exchanging a load of technical stuff with each other. We are so desperate and have the fear of missing out on whatever the latest thing is that we no longer see what is the purpose of what we are doing,” he lamented. 

Adding further, Trott said, “We use all kinds of mediums to reach out to the consumer, and the human mind is our medium. Good ideas live there and they go viral there. Technology is just a system for us to reach there. There are viral ideas, but there is no such thing as viral media. No matter what technology it gets by, if it is rubbish, it will die. We must always remember – it’s never just about understanding the job, it’s always about understanding people.” 

Speaking about the close relation between marketing and advertising, Trott said, “Marketing is marketing and advertising is the voice of marketing. Marketing people can do all the thinking they want, but without advertising to get it heard, it stays invisible.” 

He stressed that the three most important elements for the creative departments, which are: Impact, Communication and Persuasion. “Without impact there is no communication or persuasion, because they are all dependent on each other,” he concluded.


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