In order for creativity to flourish, Burger King believes brands need to be open to ideas wherever they may come from, even if that is beyond their creative agency or outside their sector.
Burger King’s UK marketing director Katie Evans tells Marketing Week she avoids a “formal process” where possible in pitching and notes: “If somebody wants to email me or approach us with a good idea we’re more than happy to discuss it and look at it.”
This openness applies to its agencies, with Burger King keen to hear creative ideas from any company they work with. “We’re very open to ideas. That’s not just from our creative agency, that’s our PR agency, our digital agency. We work really well with the team and share thoughts and discussions and get their input on a brief,” she says.
Evans, who joined Burger King less than two years after a career working at brands including Heinz and Gourmet Burger Kitchen, says a key part of broadening Burger King’s view has been its agency relationships.
She explains: “The benefit of our agencies [is they are involved] with multiple different campaigns across multiple brands in different sectors.
“We’re talking to ourselves if we just look at our own sector. There is some incredibly innovative work coming out of all sectors and all categories – tech, lifestyle and high street retail – and we need to keep our eye on that.”
Creativity is a key part of the way Burger King works as a business, with the fast-food giant seeing an intrinsic link between it and effectiveness.
Evans explains: “There is no doubt creativity makes marketing more effective. If customers can engage with an idea in the right way it helps position the message, engage audiences we want to speak to. It makes a campaign much more memorable, much more disruptive and it connects with consumers on a different level.”
We’re talking to ourselves if we just look at our own sector.
Katie Evans, Burger King
While the brand “obviously has business objectives and clear plans” when it considering a new marketing idea, it wants its briefs to have “room for fun and to present that in a really engaging way”.
Putting creativity at the heart of sustainability
An example of this is Burger King’s latest campaign in the UK. To coincide with its decision to remove plastic toys from all children’s meals across the UK to help protect the environment, it has launched an initiative called ‘The Meltdown’ that calls on the public to donate unwanted meal toys from any retailer to be recycled and brought back as play areas.
The campaign to promote the initiative includes digital content, outdoor, in-store PR and experiential activity. Developed by Jones Knowles Ritchie, it includes a cast of melting characters – including a jeep-driving bunny called Beep Beep and Roary, the wind-up T-Rex – to highlight the environmental problem disposable toys are causing.
“We hold our hands up, we have been giving out plastic toys since the 90s and we need to recognise that and look at it and see what can we do differently,” Evans explains.
Evans believes The Meltdown highlights how Burger King uses “creativity to solve business issues” and shows how it wants to encourage engagement by “doing more” than just removing plastic toys from its own meals.
She explains: “We’re certainly not the fun police [who want to] take toys out and that’s it. We wanted to create something fun and invite people in.”
Burger King has positioned the move as part of a wider sustainability effort. But Evans admits it took campaigners – specifically a petition from two young girls in Hastings – to push the agenda.
“We recognised that it’s a public interest issue and younger consumers are particularly interested in this. They are far more informed and educated on environmental issues and doing the right thing than ever before,” Evans says.
Despite Burger King being “keen to do this as quick as possible”, The Meltdown has been in the works for 18 months to ensure the brand could provide “sole transparency and visibility” with the process.
The move comes as part of a commitment from Burger King to offer bio-degradable plastic toys by 2025. While such sustainability goals are about “doing the right thing”, Evans notes they also help the brand.
Ultimately she says: “Success [with sustainability] is about engaging new consumers in a way we maybe haven’t before and showing our customers that we care deeply about this.”