Bravery can overcome budget constraints and help brands to cut through, according to Burger King UK CMO Soco Núñez de Cela.

Speaking at MAD//Fest London last month, Núñez de Cela told attendees that whilst Burger King is a tiny firm compared to its rivals, bravery, agility and staying relevant in popular culture had boosted creativity and delivered competitive advantage: “We have to have agility in everything we can do. Limitation breeds creativity. When you don’t have the marketing funds, you have to work with it.”

“We treat our agencies as our team. We make sure we are on top of things so we are reactive and to make sure that we make the most of our tiny budgets,” added Núñez de Cela.

Cutting through on shoestring

Using the example of Burger King’s ‘Another Whopper on the side of a bus’ campaign during the 2019 UK General Election, Núñez de Cela demonstrated how an investment of just £3k had helped Burger King to go viral: “If you’re brave enough you can cut through”, she said.

Núñez de Cela went on to explain how Burger King had benefited from reacting quickly to the pandemic with its famous ‘Order from McDonald’s’ campaign. The campaign went viral across the globe and was copied by other brands across a range of different sectors.

“We are part of popular culture. You have to be very fast and react. Other brands got involved, everyone jumped on a trend,” said Núñez de Cela.

Risk v reward

Reflecting on Burger King’s infamous International Women’s Day tweet, Núñez de Cela told MAD//Fest attendees that whilst mistakes were inevitable, the benefits of an agile, creative approach rooted in popular culture outweighed the potential risks. Whilst the campaign received a backlash on social media, it did at least achieve its objective of opening up a conversation about the lack of female professional chefs.

“Expect the unexpected”

Burger King’s successes have not always panned out in the way the brand had expected. Burger King’s decision to sponsor English football league strugglers Stevenage Town (in order to gain publicity via the club’s inclusion in the FIFA ‘20 video game) provoked a huge reaction outside of the UK. However, the initial response in the UK was more subdued. A full year later, the campaign went viral in the UK. In contrast, Burger King’s ‘Burger Queen’ sponsorship of Stevenage FC’s women’s team to stop the club from folding during the coronavirus pandemic was an immediate UK hit but more limited outside of the country.

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