A Whopper of a Conference

Some things to note: I’ve never been to a marketing conference. Never been to NYC. Oh, and it’s my first year in the industry. When you find yourself in a position like this, you go to the largest advertising conference in the world smack dab in Manhattan, right?

Yep. I was fortunate enough to attend Advertising Week in New York this year.

Overall, it was a great experience, and, as a newer guy in the ad world, it made me feel very much a part of the industry. As the chief marketing guy of Heineken said, the week was like “one big commercial.” And through all the seminars, panels, and corporate spiels, the one to really stand out was not what I would’ve expected. You know which one that was?

Burger King.

I’m not kidding. Fernando Machado, the Global CMO for Burger King, absolutely killed it. A couple things stood out to me, like the way in which he exhibited a passionate hatred for some of Burger King’s earlier branding, while also loving the hell out of the company. That dichotomy and brutal level of honesty weren’t what I had experienced before from an exec – someone who was eager to start things off by tearing apart facets of his company. He made it clear that tough love is really what helps approach a brand and better it.

What Fernando’s talk ultimately boiled down to was this: You shouldn’t pursue ideas you love. You should pursue ideas that make you afraid. In fact, he even stated that when he presented concepts, if one was particularly loved by a certain fellow exec, that’s the one he would slash immediately (needless to say, that man eventually stopped telling Fernando which ideas he liked).

Sure, I enjoyed several other speakers and panels: Stephanie McMahon, the Chief Brand Officer from WWE, discussing the need for brands to let folks know that their voice matters. Or how as a company, it takes a long time to build trust, but seconds to destroy it. Or remembering to always ask yourself the question, “Are people going to care about this?”

But pursuing the ideas that make your stomach churn is what has stuck with me over the last few weeks. Even Steve Madden, in his own hilarious way, explained how it’s fear that motivates him to continue driving his company upwards.

So here’s to being creative with my ideas and writing to the point of being sick.

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