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Editorial
 

From the pulpit

The Editor’s introduction

Issue 56 | September 2020

This pandemic, it's really screwing things up, goddammit.

I was supposed to have gone to South Africa to talk at a conference, where I was going to share a platform with rockstar marketer Fernando Machado, CMO of Burger King.

Perhaps it's no bad thing the conference became virtual. I might have been embarrassing. "Oh Mr. Machado, can I have your autograph please?" etc etc.

He's my hero.

This is a guy who has done more for creativity in the last ten years than any creative director. Any agency leader, for that matter.

His bosses are hard-hats. They wear suits. They have MBAs. They operate out of a private equity firm called 3G Capital Inc., which tells you everything. These are people who are driven by numbers. And that's what Machado gives them, quarter in and quarter out.

Lots of big, juicy numbers.

He does what he does not to win awards, but to sell burgers.

It just so happens that he does win a ton of awards (Cannes Marketer of the Year 2017, Adweek's Brand Genius of theYear 2018).

That's because he manages to get his agencies to do their best work for him.

They win awards too. More than 120 Lions and 16 D&AD Pencils at the last count.

His stellar career and the bottom-line results he gets should be a demonstration to every other marketer that creativity works.

So I make no apology that there are no fewer than four BK campaigns in this issue of Directory.

"Mouldy Whopper" (page 55) is already the single most-awarded piece of advertising in 2020. It's great brand advertising at a time when most other marketers are spending what little money they have on direct response, promotion-led, buy-it-now campaigns.

I also make no apology that this is the second issue devoted almost entirely to campaigns about and around the pandemic.

After nearly six months, communications themes are beginning to widen out towards something not far short of acceptance.

Brands are continuing to say thank you (to nurses and doctors, Sports United, page 22, and to their customers, Batelco, page 21), but now they are also saying, "Stay vigilant." The most convincing of these messages comes from the Social Distance Squad (page 23), children with cystic fibrosis. Nobody has more authority to talk about self-isolation than a kid who's been self-isolating all her life.

After the shock and horror of the early stages of lockdown, people are now getting used to Covid-19, even if they don't like it. It's giving brands permission to talk about the crisis differently. Even to have fun with it.

So, Country Time Lemonade can offer mini-bailouts to kids who've had their lemonade stalls closed down by the pandemic. And ASB Bank in New Zealand can offer their SME customers the use of the country's most famous rugby stars to promote their businesses. (Page 60)

Then there's Iceland. Page 33.

Global tourism is reckoned to be down by at least $820 billion, so it's a very brave tourist board that opts to spend money knowing it can't welcome many visitors for the foreseeable future.

But back to Machado. He had this to say about his Mouldy Whopper.

"It was never to achieve short-term sales. If I wanted to trigger short-term sales I would run a promotion. I have the sales data of every country delivered to my cell phone twice a day so I know nothing beats a promo, but I cannot do just promos. I think that is one of the key challenges that the CMO has: how to balance the short and long term. I'm here to stay, so I need to view Burger King in the long term."

Iceland, it seems, is here for the long-term too.

As, indeed, are Audi (page 36) and Barilla (page 37) with campaigns that are unashamedly about the brand rather than about direct response.

The fascination for me of this issue of Directory is in seeing how advertisers are adapting. In watching them be thoughtful, helpful and observant, we're watching ourselves.

Cover notes

At Directory we continue to sing songs about Xerox ("You've Got a Friend", "Don't Stop Believing", "Together", etc). The partnership is about creative opportunity as much as anything. And that's what gave me the idea for the cover design of Issue 56 here.

It's a demonstration of what Xerox's amazing six-pack Iridesse print system can do. We've used Iridesse in the past to get a couple of fabulous covers printed with metallic inks but it can print white inks and clear inks too. As you can see.

It also happens to be a demonstration of a shared belief.That right now creativity has never been so important.If you agree, please go and have a look at xerox.com/creative

Thank you.

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