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Time for an "open-office" plan where Marketing and PR sit together & collaborate happily ever after.

"You can’t always activate a brand on a national scale. But you can make sure the entire nation reads about it." - Ikechukwu Maduka, CEO, Nelson Reids.


It's another Tuesday and Burger King is in the news — again. This time, Ad Age reports the brand’s latest stunt to gift Bronx residents who live near the ‘joker steps’ free Whoppers. 

Burger King’s insane transformation into the savvy, 21st Century brand marketing king it is today has been nothing short of sensational. Through a string of carefully crafted campaigns, sometimes even bordering on genius, they have dazzled their way back into prominence, winning admirers from far East Asia to Africa. 

However, even they would admit that their latest activation was just a simple, old-fashioned giveaway dipped in a little sauce. Perhaps good enough to be covered by the local Bronx news but certainly not worth global media coverage. Or so it would seem. Instead, this relatively straight forward stunt was reported by some of the biggest media publications in the world. 

When you look critically at Burger King, one thing quickly becomes obvious: they are always in the news. Both for the ultra-simple things they do, like existing; and for the super-complex stuff like the Whopper Detour —  which involved giving away Whopper sandwiches for only a penny when customers ordered within 600m of any MacDonald's outlet. 

It is pretty clear that Burger King’s recipe for its recent brand marketing success is a combination of genius (and sometimes tongue in cheek) experience-focused marketing + consistent media relations. In other words: they pull some crafty stunt, delight their customers and then make sure the world hears about it. 

This three-step process involving two critical departments working in perfect sync has guided Burger King to the summit of the US fast-food market. And it is time for more brands to copy this blueprint and start looking at marketing and public relations as two sides of the same coin rather than as separate units working towards individual objectives. Think Ketchup and fries — both very useful on their own, but together form a devasting partnership part responsible for the explosive growth of companies like Heinz (and some of the world’s obesity problem). 

The people at Burger King have fused their marketing and public relations departments into one perfectly-oiled machine grinding towards the same objective. And the result is the resurgence in brand affinity and consistent growth in customer share of mind and wallet over the past few years.

If there is one critical takeaway from Burger King, it is this: You can’t always activate a brand on a global scale. But the one thing you can do is make sure the entire world reads about it. 

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