I have been struck dumb of late and I have no caps left to doff at the superbness of the global Burger King brand’s marketing and digital teams. Over the past few years, the hits just keep on coming.

Every week another hit from another Burger King local team is announced in both trade and consumer press, with every sane marketer saying, “Dammit I wish I’d thought of that”.

Burger King are smashing it out of the park as second nature at the moment, and deservedly won brand of the year 2019 and Cannes Lions for their Mouldy Whopper Campaign. This of course takes time, confidence, support from the senior teams, some great agency partners and some talented marketers. But the most important thing of all is the freedom around what constitutes brand building and sales driving marketing, and also the swagger that it can come from anywhere.

It seems to be that if it’s a good idea then it is worth doing. The amazing fact of all of this is that any brand can do it. You really can. Sure, Burger King is big and they have good budgets, strong agencies and seasoned marketers. But I would encourage all of you to start to think this way - as if you do enough original (and this is the big point - original), then your marketing will propel you to brand fame.

You need a few moonshots to see what will happen. You will miss more than you hit, but you will miss all of them if you don’t take your shot. Coming back to the point of original is that the minute, hour, evening or day after something great (or viral, as the grey haired senior teams throw about as some kind of SMART objective *rolls eyes*) happens from a brand like BK, Pret, Itsu, Leon, etc, every agency and marketing team in the land get a one line email from their bosses - “Can we go viral like Burger King”.

Well no, you can’t. Originality is everything and if that idea had been pitched to you the day before and heavens forbid the suggestion that it actually would cost a bit of marketing budget with no guaranteed sales return that instant, you would most likely have berated the poor brand / marketing manager. This is something I hope that the hospitality industry can get its head round - you need a two speed plan.

You need a fast and a slow. You need a slow brand building plan that will get you slowly and steadily to the heights you have never seen, and through this you will be imprinted in a few cells of more customers than you can imagine through positive brand association, and then a fast plan that is about sales now (or at least very soon).

The latest and greatest marketing campaign from Burger King was the digital partnership between Stevenage FC and Burger King on and off the field, which saw them grace gamers’ screens across the globe within the foremost football console game Fifa. A flame grilled piece of genius. Burger King see themselves as the underdog and they chose to sponsor the underdog who, in Fifa Games, will usually be pitted against the goliaths of the game.

Although this was another sure-fire hit, it is the latest campaign that has got me as excited as when the Rodeo Burger comes back onto the BK menu (West of Scotland favourite). Burger King has changed their name on Stevenage FC’s Women’s Team’s Kits to ‘Burger Queen’, and they have changed the brand sign / logo in at least one of the Stevenage restaurants.

This is unreal and only possible due to the strength of their brand codes (logo, name, colours, iconography, dna etc). Burger King’s brand codes are so strong that they can do this, and people will still know it’s them, and get the gag that will not be a confusing in-joke for the public. Not many brands can pull this off but bravo to BK for being brave (even when big) to do the right thing, pay homage to the amazing women of football and get a viral hit on their hands to boot.

So, what can you take from this? Well three things:

1) Have an enemy / largest in the market that you are pushing against to help you get your position right (In this case McD’s, and BK then naturally are the underdog challenger).

2) Define and use your brand codes relentlessly and tirelessly (there should only be 4 or 5 maximum by the way).

3) Give your people the freedom to have ideas, execute ideas and over time you will score more goals than shots off target.

4) Have a visible voice in your company who is active within the brand, marketing and hospitality community.

5) Give back - the latest example of this (not just giving an important financial lifeline to a small club) is that BK are partnering with the Clio awards to find the next generation of student creative talent to feed the industry full of ideas for many years to come.

Be brave, steal the formula with pride but don’t parody, ape or copy the uncopyable. In the words of BK of the past - Have It Your Way.

Idea – 10/10 (solid idea to reach your audiences and new audiences nationwide)

Effort vs Return - 10/10 (will give huge reach amongst a new / national audience)

Execution – 10/10 (early days)

Impact – 10/10 (depending on activation and growing and fostering the social media/fan community)

Summary – 10/10. BK takes the crown again.

I’d be really interested to see what you think. Tweet me @supersonic_inc or Mark McCulloch on LinkedIn #mcamarkoutoften