For visitors to Cannes Lions in 2019, it was near-impossible to miss the promotional campaign for Burger King’s session in the Lumière theatre. Provocative posters advertised the ‘Survivor’s guide to the Adpocalypse’ with a blazing inferno, depicting the Burger King character carrying the severed, zombified head of Ronald McDonald, adorned almost every wall in the Palais des Festivals.

Attendees would have been forgiven for expecting a rumination on consumer ad avoidance and the creeping popularity of ad-free environments. Instead, the fast food chain’s top marketers offered a fascinating glimpse into how challenger brands can maximise the effectiveness of non-paid media assets to make up for a disparity in ad budgets.

Fernando Machado and Marcelo Pascoa, Burger King’s Global Chief Marketing Officer and Global Head of Marketing respectively, struck an initially light-hearted tone, remarking on the tendency of marketers to veer towards fatalism.