The title of this post was going to be ‘THE POWER OF CREATIVITY REDUX’, but preparatory research inexplicably led to Marshall McLuhan, and there you have it. To save readers from going down that same rabbit hole inadvertently, all Marshall McLuhan content is relegated to the sidebar below.

Burger King logoLast month, Burger King was awarded ‘Creative Marketer of the Year’ at the 2017 Cannes Lions. This week, Fernando Machado, Burger King’s Head of Brand Marketing, made news for his work brand (and his personal brand) by apparently discovering the power of creativity[1]. I’m suspicious of Machado’s content and tone in all of this because he works for 3G Capital. In fact, he’s the poster boy for 3G career success—young, well-educated, enthusiastic and most importantly, getting results. Being Brazilian can’t hurt either. 3G is a company value extractor, which is almost always the opposite of brand builder. On the positive side, Machado’s first big job was with Nestle, arguably the world’s best brand builder. And 3G did buy in to Machado’s approach and waited for the results to follow.

Marshall McLuhan

Opinion on this curious Canadian is polarised like few others. In any conversation on the topic, you will hear both the following statements, in one form or another:

“Wow—he was a genius/pioneer on media and communications theory!”

“Yeah, he was a nutter.”

The truth lies somewhere in the middle, as discussed here previously. His most famous quote is, ‘The medium is the message’. It was the thesis of his 1964 book titled, ‘Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man’. He also co-wrote a book titled ‘The media is the massage’, but this was actually poking some fun at his original work on the topic.

Here’s what I find interesting about McLuhan, and why he can’t be dismissed:

  1. He predicted the Internet-based World Wide Web 30 years before it was invented and is the originator of the term, ‘The Global Village’.
  2. He’s considered the patron saint of Wired Magazine. Still.
  3. In 1962, he predicted that because of media technology, the western world would become a ‘Postliterate Society’. Think we’re there yet?

I believe Burger King’s recent McWhopper, Whopper Exchange and ‘Burning Stores’ campaigns deserve every bit of recognition they got at Cannes Lions and beyond. This is brilliant work done by multiple agencies. They also demonstrate the powerful integration of traditional, digital and social media. See the references below if you aren’t familiar with all of these great pieces of creative work.

Creativity is the message

But we already knew about the power of creativity. It got lost somewhere along the way in our fascination with new digital media. In marketing, the media has never been the message. It can be an important part of the message, but at the core, there needs to be creativity that engages us with some combination of relevant uniqueness, bravery and joy. Sometimes called ‘edginess’.

Notes and references:

  1. Leonie Roderick, “Burger King: Galvanising the whole business around an idea is the only way to ensure it isn’t vanilla”, Marketing Week, July 11, 2017.
  2. McWhopper campaign reference.
  3. Whopper Exchange campaign reference—see 1. above.
  4. ‘Burning Stores’ campaign reference.
  5. Main image credit: scene from Annie Hall, the multiple Academy Award winning 1977 feature film directed by Woody Allen, in which Marshall McLuhan (briefly) plays himself.