Big Brands, Big Boi & BI Descend on Burger King HQ in Miami

By last Friday, Super Bowl fever was starting to grip Miami. The Big Game was 48 hours away. Some 200,000 people were pouring into the region for the weekend. Many were already bleary-eyed after a week of daytime events and evening parties. It was in that spirit that Brand Innovators dragged a couple hundred of those good people out of bed Friday morning for a Sports Marketing Summit hosted by our Burger King friends in their Miami HQ.

By last Friday, Super Bowl fever was starting to grip Miami. The Big Game was 48 hours away. Some 200,000 people were pouring into the region for the weekend. Many were already bleary-eyed after a week of daytime events and evening parties. It was in that spirit that Brand Innovators dragged a couple hundred of those good people out of bed Friday morning for a Sports Marketing Summit hosted by our Burger King friends in their Miami HQ.

Big Boi saying “Hey Ya!” to Miami

It helped that we had a terrific host for the day: mover, shaker and longtime BI friend Bonin Bough. It helped that we had a stellar speaker lineup of brand marketers and NFL execs. And, yeah, it helped that we had a cameo from Antwan Patton aka Big Boi, one-half of the legendary hip-hop group Outkast.

Bonin Bough, Chief Growth Officer for Bonin Ventures

NFL Goes “Helmets Off”

Fittingly, the day began with a conversation that peeled back the veil on what it’s like to market the biggest sport in the United States. Two National Football League execs–Tim Ellis, EVP, Chief Marketing Officer and Ian Trombetta, SVP, Social & Influencer Marketing–told Sports Illustrated editor-in-chief Steve Cannella about the league’s “helmets off” strategy for helping fans emotionally connect with players in new ways.

NFL Fireside Chat (L-R): Stephen Cannella, Editor-In-Chief, Sports Illustrated; Tim Ellis, EVP-Chief Marketing Officer, National Football League; and Ian Trombetta, SVP-Social & Influencer Marketing, National Football League

“We develop real, deep relationships with our players,” said Trombetta. “We get to know them off the field. On social, we aim to shine a light on what’s important to our players. It humanizes them.”

The goal: to increase fan engagement, particularly for the all-important youth market, and drive incremental reach for the league. Of course, the NFL already has more avid fans than any other sport–an estimated 187.3 million–but the league is looking to new platforms like TikTok to fuel its rise.

Nick Kelly

Bud About to go Beyond Beer

A pair of Anheuser-Busch execs took the stage to talk about what’s next for the Budweiser family of beverages. The brand aired four separate Super Bowl ads and also hosted a three-night concert series during Super Bowl week. VP for Partnerships, Beer Culture & Community Nick Kelly said the brand made two different Bud Light Seltzer spots with musician Post Malone, then let fans vote on which would air during the game. They’re both pretty great but the one with Malone going into a convenience store was a worthy winner.

Marcel Marcondes

Anheuser-Busch U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Marcel Marcondes told the crowd, “The Super Bowl is huge for us because the Super Bowl is huge for the country.” Marcondes revealed that the brand will go “beyond beer” in 2020 so get ready for an all-out blitz for Bud Light Seltzer.

Super Bowl Reveals

A couple other segments included reveals for Super Bowl commercials.

Marissa Solis, SVP-Core Brands, Partnerships & Media for Frito Lay, revealed not one but two ads. One was the Hammer-heavy “Can’t Touch This” spot for Cheetos’ new Flamin’ Hot Popcorn. The other was an awesomely demented Cool Ranch Doritos ad with man-of-the-moment Lil Nas X and iconic cowboy Sam Elliott.

Todd Kaplan, VP Marketing for PepsiCo, was buzzing about having seen the dress rehearsal for the Pepsi-sponsored halftime show starring Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. Kaplan stuck around long enough to reveal the brand’s visually striking Super Bowl spot in which Missy Elliot & H.E.R. reimagine the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black.”

Burger King Culture

Our hosts for the day were out in full force as well. The amount of Burger King swag worn by their smiling employees is a good indication of a healthy corporate culture.

BK employees living the brand in Miami

The brand’s global CMO Fernando Machado reprised the talk he gave at our CES summit a month before, giving insights as to how Burger King continues to create campaigns that get people talking. He shared a favorite saying of his: “Creativity has the power to bend reality.” And he reiterated his belief that, in 2020, if something looks, sounds and smells like an ad, then it probably isn’t a good ad. Point well taken.

Fernando Machado (at right) with Brand Innovators co-founder Brandon Gutman

Of course, Burger King’s sister company Popeyes has been in the news too lately due to a certain spicy chicken sandwich. Popeyes’ Head of Marketing NA Bruno Cardinali had plenty to talk about, including his brand’s clever BYOB (“bring your own bun”) response to selling out the sandwich and the new fan-inspired Popeyes clothing line inspired by Beyonce’s Ivy Park activewear line.

Bruno Cardinali

That famous spicy chicken sandwich

It was a great day in South Florida. We leave you with a few more images.

Deirdre Lester, Chief Revenue Officer, Barstool Sports with Chris Davis, VP Global Brand & Sports Marketing, New Balance

Sheri Barros, Strategic Director, Global Sports Alliances, American Cancer Society

Host Bonin Bough (L) with Ryan Anderson, VP Marketing, Growth Brands, Marriott International and Jonathan Stephen, Sr. Manager of Mobile Strategy & Digital Engagement, Norwegian Cruise Line

Cedric Brown, Director, Digital Media, Miami Heat

Ritesh Shah of Brand Innovators

Chris Curtin, Chief Brand & Marketing Innovation Officer, VISA with Lizzie Widhelm, SVP, Ad Innovation, Pandora

Sports Marketing Fireside Chat (L-R): Deirdre Lester, Chief Revenue Officer, Barstool Sports; Joe Barnes, Director, Sports Marketing, Bud Light, Anhesuer Busch; and Sandra Lopez, VP & GM, Intel Sports, Intel

The Popeyes team with Burger King CMO Fer Machado at center

For more information about this and other Brand Innovators events, go here.

All photos by Kat Papera

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