Marketers should embrace risk, fear and uncertainty if they want to generate work that truly cuts through with consumers, according to Fernando Machado, global chief marketing officer at Burger King, the restaurant chain.

Machado discussed this subject during a session at Advertising Week 2018 in New York – and cited a series of print ads that featured real-life Burger King branches that have caught on fire as an example of its bold strategy in action.

Burger King, in fact, leads the major restaurant brands in the lost-by-fire category – and the print ads do provide a memorable signifier of its commitment to the superior taste of flame-grilled burgers, no matter what the consequence.

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk,” said Machado. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: How fear and flames boosted Burger King’s brand.)

“A lot of people come to us and ask, ‘Aren’t you guys afraid to show this crazy idea of [showcasing] all the fires? You’re going to have a problem.’

“And every time people come to us and ask that, it really shows they don’t know us. It’s not that we are afraid sometimes; we are afraid every time. But, if we are not afraid, what’s the point?”

In keeping with this proposition, Machado gives Burger King’s agencies a mandate to “let the idea grow” – a license that actively encourages bold, unconventional work.

“The more ‘I don’t know [if it will work]’ we hear from the agency, the more excited I get about an idea. Because another ‘I don’t know’ means that it’s never been done before,” he said.

“And the chances of something working if it’s not been done before are much higher” – especially given the “stagnant thinking” that frequently surrounds the QSR category.

“I don’t know” is an answer that terrifies any number of CMOs. But Machado strongly believes in welcoming this level of doubt. “We need to trust uncertainty,” he said.

Even in the best, most-buttoned up of circumstances, “most of the time, we don’t know. We don’t know if people will find it funny or not. But we just go for it,” Machado asserted.

Sourced from WARC