101 Great Minds on
Music, Brands and Behavior


Fernando Machado

Chief Marketing Officer at Burger King


“In a world that is so full and fast-paced, audio has the ability to cut through and connect with the heart in a way that other senses can`t.”


Fernando Machado, CMO, Burgerking

Fernando is the Global Chief Marketing Officer at Burger King. He focuses on infusing the brand with purpose, modernizing the design, and inspiring the whole organization around the development of the brand. Burger King won several prizes during Fernando`s time in the company and he is known for pushing creative boundaries to drive business growth. Before his start at the famous brand, he worked at Unilever for 18 years, where he managed different brands, including Dove. Fernando was recognized by Adweek as Grand Brand Genius, by the AD Club of NY as Marketer of the Year, by Business Insider as top 5 most innovative CMOs and by AdAge as top 50 most creative people in the business.

Reese: Do you have any background in music?

Machado: Not really. I did play a little bit of guitar when I was a little kid, but being Brazilian, I was more interested in playing soccer (laughs). I have a very eclectic taste for music, because I think that music is about moments. If you are at a BBQ with your friends, you are listening to a certain type of music. If you are in a bad mood, while being stuck in a traffic jam, you`re also listening to a certain type of music. My playlist is very diverse, it includes something from everything. That`s probably also my biggest highlight concerning music, as there`s something for every mood and for every occasion.

Reese: What is Burger Kings approach to music, sound and voice?

Machado: Something we have learned in the last couple of years is that sound is really critical in terms of triggering certain emotions, which will make customers buy the products. One thing we are putting a lot of focus on when we want to do things right, is the sound of the preparation. That means the flame grilling, the sizzling, the ingredients being chopped fresh. We know that those sounds will create desire. We put more attention into those things, it is almost like we`re approaching it from an ASMR perspective. The music itself is a different topic. The music we usually use in the spots is used for consistency, as we try to give people a sense for the brand through the music we use. We try to use music from the same category every time to trigger recognition.

Reese: Like a Sonic Identity?

Machado: I wouldn`t call it a sonic identity. I think we could be doing more and better when it comes to that. When I think about a sonic identity, I think of much more than just songs. We did our best in terms of music a long time ago when we played the “Have it your way” kind of song, which was way more memorable than the approach we have today. By just thinking about that I`m asking myself if we maybe should even reconsider our strategy by going back to a more modern version of this memorable song.

Reese: How important is having an audio identity in the age of audio-only ecosystems?

Machado: I think it will become more and more important, especially when talking about Fast Food and QSR, which is the territory where I play. Home delivery is growing, and people are also able to order through voice. You can make an order while driving home, for example. That indicates that sound is going to play an even more important role as technology advances. In our case, we still have a restaurant where we play music. That means, we also try to find the right music that fits to the tonality of our brand and the experience we want to deliver. We know if we play the right music, people tend to stay longer. Many people just want some place to relax.

Reese: More than 50% of the value of branded communication can be found in music. What do you think about this statement?

Machado: I always try to find value in the ideas that we are talking about. Many times, people approach us to pitch partnerships or projects or something. But, what`s the idea behind all of it? If it`s just about buying space or connecting you with someone else to borrow some equity with no idea behind, I would probably think twice about it. For me, the value lies in the idea. If the idea requires special attention to music or sound, we will keep that in mind and work accordingly. Some time ago, we had this idea about creating a dog treat, a flame-grilled bone, which can be ordered with normal deliveries. Lots of people have dogs or pets in general. We know, that when the order arrives, it smells delicious and the dog goes crazy, because it can`t have any of it (laughs). That`s why we thought it would be a cool idea to give customers the possibility to receive this special dog treat with their order for free. We created a very fun, cool and entertaining film to announce that project. The music we initially wanted to use for the film wasn`t a known song. When the director presented the film, he showed us two versions. One with the unknown song and one with a very famous song. And we happened to fall in love with the famous song. After hearing it only one time, we could have never imagined seeing it again with the another one. In the end, we paid more, but it was worth it. This song made the idea better. The film is still good with the other song, but not perfect. This one project really shows the influence and importance of sound. But we could still be doing more as a brand. We have many talented people at hand, but no master plan.

“Audio will always play a very important role, because it triggers emotions. In a world that is visually very cluttered, you receive an opportunity to cut through everybody else.”

Reese: What role is audio going to play in the next 10 years in the digital age?

Machado: Audio will always play a very important role, because it triggers emotions. In a world that is visually very cluttered, you receive an opportunity to cut through everybody else. The more cluttered things become, the more important audio will be. It does to not only trigger emotions but connects with people in their subconscious. When you are watching a movie, it can take many minutes until you feel something. But only one note of music will do that in a fraction of a second. In a world that is so full and fast-paced, audio has to ability to cut through and connect with the heart in a way that other senses can`t.

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