Social media plays a big role in Burger King's marketing, between its funny tweets to the relaunch of its chicken fries. ClickZ caught up with the brand's senior media director.


While social media listening is important to every marketer in 2015, Burger King is one brand that has taken it to the extreme and altered its menu because of Twitter.

"Social has changed the way we look at our business," says Adam Gagliardo, who was recently promoted to senior director of media and communications after serving as the brand's director of digital marketing and social media for a year and a half. In town for SES Miami last month, ClickZ stopped by Burger King's headquarters and spoke with Gagliardo about controversial tweets, teaming up with Instagram influencers, and social's role in the return of chicken fries.

ClickZ (CZ): Burger King discontinued chicken fries and then famously put them back on the menu because people were so vocal on social media. What was that experience like on your end?

Adam Gagliardo (AG): It's pretty amazing because we really just started to get deep into social listening. We could see that people were angry and when we really started to track the volume over time, we'd see the spikes and measure the sentiment. That was when we saw the passion; not only was the volume there, but the passion. People took it so personally - someone threatened to kill their dog if we didn't bring back chicken fries. At that point, it was like, "How do we address this?" [Disclaimer: That person did not actually kill their dog.]

CZ: How did your relaunch go, with Gloria the chicken?

AG: A lot of people engaged with the idea itself and Gloria [the chicken who decided whether specific Burger King locations will carry chicken (Read more...) by choosing between feed bowls labeled "yes" and "no"] was kind of a fun entry into the product and it got everybody more excited for the relaunch. The most exciting thing for us was the reaction; we saw a lot of conversation - over 200,000 tweets. This product is really resonating with the audience the second time around. Social media is a great launching point to do this because that's where we first saw the conversation happen. 

CZ: Fast food chains are having trouble with Millennials at the moment. Does partnering with people like [Instagram celebrity] The Fat Jew for campaigns help you reach that younger audience?

AG: We love to work with influencers who are a little bit of risk-takers, who have sense of humor, who don't take themselves too seriously. People like The Fat Jew and Scott Disick, people who are just living their lives they want to live, are in line with our brand persona. With The Fat Jew, he really is the one that comes up with the ideas. Have you seen the [Instagram] post where he got his belly button pierced and made a belly button ring with a chicken fry? There are less paid opportunities on a lot of the platforms where the influencers have a lot of their audiences - we have some stuff coming up with Vine - so it does make for getting better reach.

CZ: Which social platform do you find works best for Burger King?

AG: I hate to say best because they're all different. Each platform has evolved so much: the content is different and people engage with the content differently. I really love our Twitter. We spent a lot of time to work out who we are as a brand, what our voice sounds like. The team that works to hat has a great sense of humor. We're not a brand to take ourself too seriously and I think on Twitter, it just makes sense there. People really feel like you they have a relationship with us - they literally talk about falling in love and knowing someone loves them when they bring them Burger King.

CZ: You had the Proud Whopper during the Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco last summer and then there was that snarky tweet after McDonald's fired its chief executive. Does publicly taking a stance on a political issue and poking fun at a competitor -which are both controversial- make Burger King more authentic?

AG: We're a real brand. When you come into Burger King, you don't have any pretense. You're with your friends, you let your guard down, you eat with your hands, you might have ketchup dripping down your chin. That extends to how we do our marketing. We're not sterile; it makes sense for us to be able to express ourselves that way. We look at who we are at a party, in terms of who the brand is in a social sense. We're not the quiet girl in the corner, but we're not the bro dancing on the table, either. We're there to have a good time and talk to everybody.

CZ: What are some of your favorite campaigns besides your own?

AG: That's a good question. I would say, what is a social campaign nowadays? Does it have to have had a trending hashtag or involve a high volume of user generated content entries? Ultimately, campaigns that really connect with people's emotions in a way that inspires them to tell others or share content are ones that catch my attention. I think Red Bull's Stratos succeeded in evoking awe in many by the almost unbelievable nature of it and Dove accomplished it with [Real Beauty] Sketches by tapping into very personal and relatable emotions through video. They also both had impressive measurable results.

Although they might not fall into the category of "brand campaigns," I think Kim Kardashian's cover of Paper Magazine and "What Color is this dress?" were amazing points of hyper-talkability this past year that inspired many hilarious memes and conversation. I couldn't stop refreshing my feeds.

Title image via Shutterstock

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