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#adoboExclusive: Senseless Humor Works; The Secret Recipe from Burger King’s Top Marketer

Burger King’s Chief Marketing Officer Fernando Machado will be leading this year’s Creative Effectiveness Lions Jury as the Jury President for the upcoming Cannes Lions Festival. Machado himself is no stranger to the international event. After all, under his wing, the fast-food chain has received over 90 Lions for their different campaigns, not to mention other awards and accolades from different international festivals.

Machado is widely recognized as a marketing genius. His brazen approach to using humor in advertising has granted many of his projects a “viral” status, creating a fanbase that eagerly awaits what Burger King is up to next.


Viral Ads and Sassy Tweets

When a brand does something out of the ordinary, say troll their customers or tweet something unexpected of men in suits and ties, instantly the presses pick the story up. 

And Burger King’s different campaigns, tweets included, have consistently attracted different media networks around the globe for their unusual approach to marketing and advertising. Perhaps it is his far-out use of self-deprecating or surreal (sometimes even dark) humor that rakes in millions of views, likes and re-shares. After all, they’re not afraid to poke fun at their competition.

And the campaigns seem to be working. Machado’s Whopper Detour campaign, which made use of different platforms, GPS-enabled geofencing included, resulted to 1.5 million BK app downloads in just nine days, and also broke the restaurant’s foot traffic record at the time after more than four years. 

In a previous interview with Adweek, Machado shared that although the campaign sold Whoppers at a huge discount, customers bought more than just a burger at a time, resulting in massive sales as well (a ratio of 37:1 he says). He also shared that the chain has been enjoying close to double digit growth rates since he joined.

A History of Trolling

Although new fans of the restaurant may know of BK’s more recent campaigns and sassy posts on social media, the burger chain has actually had an odd sense of humor even in the early days of the social media boom. During Creativefest 2019, Machado told adobo magazine that he took inspiration from old campaigns created by renowned agency Crispin Porter Bogusky.

Machado shared his amazement for one of the agency’s earlier works with Burger King — The Whopper Freakout.

“Whopper freakout, first of all is one of the few campaigns for Whopper that is not a promotional campaign, it’s not price-pointed or ‘buy one get one free’, or a discount that drove sales big time for the BK brand. It also drove the attributes of the brand. It’s a campaign that happened before social media, almost. People were creating parodies on YouTube, people were talking about the campaign everywhere. It was massive number of impressions on media. And we’re talking about a campaign that was ran more than ten years ago,” says Machado.

These campaigns created not only parameters for Machado to work with, but inspiration and opportunity as well that helped pave the way to fresher and more viral campaigns today. He also cited other examples like Whopper Sacrifice that enabled Facebook users to “sacrifice” ten friends to get a free burger, as well as Whopper Virgins that had people from remote locations do a taste test between McDonald’s Big Mac and Burger King’s Whopper.

The “Secret Recipe”

Throughout his career in marketing, Machado has believed in the effectivity of telling stories and creating relatable content to connect with his intended audience. And after being in the industry for more than 20 years, he seems to have found the secret recipe to help Burger King’s continued success, and no it’s not a generous helping of beef in their burgers.

1. Is it on-brand and on-brief?
2. Will people talk about it?
3. Will the press pick it up?

“If the idea is on-brand and brief, we ask ourselves, we ask ourselves — do we think people, when they see this idea, they would talk about the idea when they go to a bar with a couple of friends? Because that to us is the measurement of shareability,” Machado explained.

And once an idea has been built, it’s all about finding the right platform to share it in, which for Machado is a no-brainer. If it’s a big idea, he says it has to go on digital platforms. After all, almost everyone today is online.


Watch his full keynote speech at this year’s CreativeFest here:

Partner with adobo Magazine

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