Marketing Strategy

How Burger King's Data-Driven Marketing Drives Strategic Growth: Q&A With Antonello Alexandre – MarTech Advisor

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This (data-driven marketing) is one of our focus areas. We are working hard to integrate our data from all multiple sources: ticket information, credit card, media, app, geolocation, among others.”

Innovation is central to the marketing strategy of Burger King. That’s why, in this exclusive edition of MarTalk Stack Alexandre Antonello, head of marketing, Latin America, Burger King talks about the quick service restaurant’s (QSR) plan to connect customer data management and activation programs across channels and devices.


Winning CX will come from Brands who can balance relevance, consistency and convenience to drive engagement. The kind of engagement that drives optimal customer lifetime value and real business impact.


Antonello also discusses how marketers can sustain a culture of innovation and shares lessons on how to leverage macro consumer trends. He puts the spotlight on how marketers can influence customer behavior, create content that audiences will actively want to consume, and more.

Key takeaways from this Q&A on data-driven marketing strategies:

  • Insights in Burger King’s campaign – the Impossible Burger
  • Top tips on extracting optimal outcomes from your current martech stack
  • Latest marketing trends from Burger King to follow in 2020 and beyond

Here’s the edited transcript of Alexandre Antonello’s conversation with us on data-driven marketing in 2020:

Alexandre, please tell us about your career path, what your role is at Burger King, and how your team strives towards creating excellence every day.

I’ve built my career mostly on CPG companies like Unilever and Mars, in categories like Food, Ice Cream, Confectionary, and Petcare, in different markets like Brazil, Mexico, Western Europe, Central America, Caribbean, and the U.S.

My role at Burger King is Head of Marketing for Latin America, which basically consists of delivering the best value for franchisees through our brand. There are several areas of focus, most notably on Marketing and Data Analytics, Digital, Innovation, and Communication.

Our team strives to create excellence every day driven by the great sense of ownership that everyone holds of the company. We share a great team spirit, and we work hard to collaborate and be accountable not for our individual success but for the team’s.

What was your favorite campaign for Burger King in the last year? Please trace the evolution and results of the campaign for us. What are the three biggest takeaways for our readers from this campaign?

My favorite campaign for BK last year was undoubtedly Mango Habanero, in Mexico. We launched a super spicy sandwich, and the insight of the product and the creative campaign were equally rooted in local insights. On the product side, Chilli habanero is a Mexican icon. For the campaign, we decided to leverage one of the biggest clichés for Mexico which is tourists “taking over” Cancun for partying. So, we put the two things together and shot authentic and real scenes of tourists trying our new sandwich, which was ultimately positioned “only for Mexicans”. The outcome was obviously hilarious.

The campaign was the best-tested campaign ever in the history of the brand and was a key contributor for us to double our sales in the premium layer of our menu.

Among our takeaways were to really tap into local insights, to trust your agency to nurture the idea allowing it to grow and to do not be afraid to dare.

Learn More: Why Oracle Now Offers Customer Data Management to B2C Brands

In 2019, Burger King piloted the Impossible Burger, a plant-based alternative, which was very well received by the market. What lessons can marketers derive from this step taken by Burger King?

To leverage macro consumer trends fast. Although there are many out there saying that “there is no such thing as the first mover advantage” we are strong believers that there is. Today there are many cases of companies losing momentum and market value because they are failing to hop into the macro trends. That is where more daring and ambitious companies separate from the bureaucratic ones, because moving with the trends often involve approving investment without a clear business case and ROI.

Innovation is central to the marketing strategy of Burger King. How do you sustain a culture of innovation in your marketing team and what practical steps will you take to drive strategic growth in 2020?

We basically try hard to stay connected with our guests. We talk to them, listen to them leveraging technology (social listening), join focus groups and carry out consumer interviews in the restaurants. We also try to learn from other industries like CPG through consumer safaris in the supermarkets and from the hotel industry, through benchmarking and organizing events with some of our colleagues in those industries. We also spend approximately 50% of our time in the field, in the different markets where we have our footprint. 

We will continue to do that in 2020 through an intense calendar of consumer interactions and market visits.

Learn More: Why Customer Data Management Is Essential to Airline Marketing: Q&A with Edward Bell of Cathay Pacific

Data-driven marketing is crucial today. What is Burger King’s plan to connect data management and data activation to deliver orchestrated campaigns across channels and devices?

This is one of our focus areas. We are working hard to integrate our data from all multiple sources: ticket information, credit card, media, app, geolocation, among others. We already leverage a lot of this knowledge for our marketing, but the possibilities that will be generated from the integration are limitless. Once this is achieved, the challenge will be allocating the right resources to launch laser focused campaign and measure results accordingly.

To what degree can marketers influence customer behavior and create content that audiences will actively want to consume?

To a very high degree, otherwise I wouldn’t be a marketer! This is a complex subject but, in a nutshell, I believe that marketing has a direct influence on the way that people shop and consume. Decisions are made 100% emotionally and unconsciously, so the marketer’s job articulated in a simple way is to create the right nudges that make people want to buy you more than they want to buy your competitors. That makes me a strong believer in doing things that build the brand in the long term while creating brand salience in consumers’ minds in the critical moments of consumption.

What practical challenges do you face in driving adoption or extracting optimal outcomes from your current set of marketing technology tools?

Providing the right coaching to the team, so that the focus is on generating insights from the data and not generating lots of PowerPoint charts. Resources are another critical limiting factor because while the new technology available provides limitless opportunities, the marketing teams are still set up in the old traditional way. I do see a big opportunity for organizations to learn the optimal organization design for marketing.

What is the one area of investment you’d like to make in the immediate future from a marketing tech perspective?

We are making those investments (App, CRM, Loyalty, Customer Data Platform), and I would not take a further step before we get this up and running. There is a world of complexity involved in leveraging the opportunities enabled by all the technology we are bringing to life.

What’s the one thing marketers need to focus on in 2020 and beyond?

Building the right capabilities to embrace the new digital landscape and blend the “old” and “new” reality.

There are unchangeable universal insights that relate to the things that make us tick as human beings, archetypal meaning, and how storytelling will always play a role in our lives. That is as critical as it will ever be for brand building, and the implications for marketing will not change. However, the new digital landscape brings a new world of challenges and possibilities, with more brands having access to a wide distribution in digital channels, advertising to masses, and, therefore, access to building a consumer base from an early stage of existence. Beyond more competition, the challenge and opportunities on data analytics are immense, as I have mentioned before.

Learn More: How to Propel Your Brand Towards Programmatic Audio: Interview with Laura Barnett of Propel Water by Pepsico

Which trends are you following closely in the marketing world?

I’m following the trends on the QSR industry and what our guests will be expecting from our restaurants in the future. That involves a wide range of changing needs, like expectations from food and restaurant experiences.

Thank you, Antonello, for sharing your insights on how brands can drive data-driven marketing campaigns. We hope to talk to you again soon.

About Alexandre Antonello:

He is a passionate marketing professional, because he believes this function can have a strong influence on businesses while doing good for the community and the planet. Originally Brazilian, Alexandre considers himself a citizen of the world, after living in several different countries and loving the experience of discovering each one of them. He’s fascinated by strategy and problem solving and likes to go for the 10x growth rather than the incremental. He believes he is on this world to explore, transform, and contribute.


Founded in 1954, the Burger King brand is the second largest fast-food hamburger chain in the world. The original Home of The Whopper®, the Burger King system, operates more than 18,200 locations in more than 100 countries and U.S. territories. Almost 100 percent of Burger King restaurants are owned and operated by independent franchisees, many of them family-owned operations that have been in business for decades.

MarTalk Stack is an interview series with notable CEOs, CMOs from Fortune 500 enterprises from around the world. From CMS to web analytics, this interview series is all about speaking to these thought leaders about what works for them and their brands.

What are your thoughts about using data-driven marketing strategies in 2020? Follow us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn to know more about the latest in data-driven marketing trends across the globe.

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