Brands need to make sure they “walk the walk” on diversity and inclusion rather than moving straight to making ads, according to Fernando Machado, global chief marketing officer of quick-service chain Burger King.

Machado was speaking on a webinar held by Brand Innovators, describing his response to the recent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which has prompted a wave of protests about racism in the US.

“I felt very angry about what was going on,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Burger King’s Machado focusing on walking the walk concerning equality.)

Machado’s wider response to Floyd’s death was to try and implement tangible change within his own sphere of influence.

“It was super-disturbing. And I tried to channel my anger to cause an impact on the things where I can make an impact,” he said.

And that includes championing efforts to ensure that Restaurant Brands International – the parent company of Burger King, as well as the Tim Hortons and Popeyes chains – is truly diverse internally.

“People may not share my perspective on this one,” Machado said, “but step one, for me as a marketeer and as a leader in the organisation, is to make sure that we have proper representation of African Americans … in our partners, whether they are suppliers or agencies, and in our 20,000 restaurants.”

Increasing diversity at Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes, Machado said, “is one of our core values. I want to accelerate the walk before we can talk.”

Taking an honest look at performance in this area is critical to making a difference that lasts. Machado’s current verdict for his stable of brands indicates a good performance for LGTBQ and Hispanic representation.

“But I think we are still behind when it comes to representation for African Americans. And I’m more focused on that,” he said.

And the third parties that step out with Burger King also need to have their own houses in order before they join the CMO in pursuing such a mission.

“It’s a bad sign in our industry when I start to receive one proactive idea after another around racism, and the people and the companies that are sending me the ideas don’t have proper representation of African Americans,” Machado said. “Ad agencies and clients should first focus on that, more so than on advertising.”

Sourced from WARC