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January 10, 2022 - Story

Let’s talk difference in creativity

In the very first episode of Difference Talks by Duke & Grace, we pay a tribute to creativity. We invited none other than Kenny Vermeulen, our very own Creative Director, and Vic Dresen, Marketing Manager of Burger King. They already DM each other regularly on Twitter and now finally meet in real life. We may assume that they get along well, but do they share the same vision when it comes to creating a consistent brand experience? Let’s find out!

To get in the mood, we laid some dilemmas in front of them. They had to choose between this or that. And they’re not easy … Sorrynotsorry!

But do these different choices reflect a different belief on how to make a difference in creativity? Let's dive into their conversation.


Does a consistent brand experience make a difference?

Vic goes ahead and gives us a straightforward 'yes'. He believes a strong brand must have a certain consistency to put forward its norms and values. "Of course, you should adapt your core message to the ongoing trends and the spirit of the times. But, essentially, it should never be a revolution. Unless your brand is having a hard time or might even cease to exist, a revolution might be in order." It’s natural for a brand to evolve. For example, the 'plant-based' trend is important for Burger King. "Twenty years ago, it was completely unthinkable that fast-food could be plant-based. But it’s an evolution within the spirit of the times and fits our brand, so why not?"

“Of course, you can adapt your core message to the ongoing trends and the spirit of the times. But, essentially, a revolution is out of the question.”

Vic Dresen

Marketing Manager at Burger King

Does creativity make a difference in every touchpoint?

Both Kenny and Vic agree that creativity is a very powerful tool. But do you have to be creative in all touchpoints, at all times? Vic has been giving this a lot of thought, and he came up with a - for many recognizable - metaphor: "Everyone has a funny uncle in the family, right? The one who tells the same type of jokes over and over again? Well, I hate to break it to this guy, it becomes predictable and thus stops being funny after a while." What he’s trying to say: Creativity is absolutely necessary for certain touchpoints, such as TV campaigns, where you need to stand out of the clutter. But, sometimes, a clear message is sufficient. Think of a simple call-to-action to purchase. "Creativity is only fun if it surprises from time to time."

“Everyone has a funny uncle in the family, right? The one who makes the same jokes over and over again? Well, I hate to break it to this guy, but it stops being funny after a while.”

Vic Dresen

Marketing Manager at Burger King

LETSTALKDIFFERENCE_VISUAL_1_LEFT

Kenny fully agrees that you have to be pragmatic. That’s why both guests chose sales over awards in the fire starters. Vic explains: "At Burger King, we measure not only sales but also everything that has to do with brand image. Without measuring, you’re just doing stuff at random." Kenny finishes his words: "Creating for the sake of creating is just a waste of time and money. As an agency, I want to be judged on brand awareness, a soft or a hard KPI … Something that has been agreed upon in advance. We may not forget that, fundamentally, advertising was called into being to sell products or services."

“Creating for the sake of creating is just a waste of time and money. As an agency, I want to be judged on brand awareness, a soft or a hard KPI … Something that has been agreed upon in advance. We may not forget that, fundamentally, advertising was called into being to sell products or services.”

Kenny Vermeulen

Creative Director at Duke & Grace

Vic continues: "We should not create things to win awards. What’s important? Making relevant content for your community." At Burger King, they always expect a valid answer to 'Nice idea, but so what?' when approving a creative campaign. According to Vic, the holy trinity is: Do we think it’s funny? Does it fit the brand? And does it convey a message? "For me, creativity is a mindset rather than a goal. You have to keep it at the back of your mind, every single day."


Do timing and budget make a difference in creativity?

Both Vic and Kenny agree that providing a well-defined timing is extremely important - not only in fixed briefings, but also in last-minute pitches. That’s why Vic appreciates it when an agency is proactive and spontaneously comes up with a top topical. "If they find a nice angle to zero in on topical matters, that’s totally independent of any briefing, timing, or budget. If necessary, we can shift gears really quickly." Just think of their social media post in response to the DNA test of Delphine Boël and King Albert II:

Kenny carefully addresses the elephant in the room: "And what about budget? Budgets are clearly under pressure - especially now, with the still ongoing COVID-19 crisis." But Vic deliberately left budget aside, as they always work with a retainer fee. "When you can agree on a correct retainer fee, your agency will definitely go the extra mile. Because you give them creative freedom. And, in my opinion, creativity is at its best when it comes spontaneously." Kenny definitely likes the sound of that!

“When you can agree on a correct retainer fee, your agency will definitely go the extra mile. Because you basically give them creative freedom.”

Vic Dresen

Marketing Manager at Burger King

Besides, Vic believes that not all creative campaigns have to cost big money. "Creativity can be out-of-the-box with one simple tweet. Think of our roasting of Kanye West, a tweet consisting of three words. It didn’t cost us a dime and it’s the most liked tweet in Burger King's history. As I said before, creativity is a mindset."

Explains a lot https://t.co/CalmlcD3eu

— Burger King (@BurgerKingUK) November 5, 2018

"Thanks to digital, we no longer have to search for the big idea with the big budget", Kenny continues. "We can also go for the smart idea, where sometimes the speed of execution is more important than the execution itself. A tweet is sometimes stronger if it’s sent out quickly rather than fully crafted by a team of five people."


How does the cooperation between creatives and marketers make a difference?

"I believe a good cooperation starts with an open briefing", says Vic. "At Burger King, we have the habit of giving one-line briefings. We provide an approach, like 'flame grilling is better', and that’s it." In other words, Vic fully trusts the agency to come up with creative ideas that fit in that open briefing. "When creatives present their idea, we always ask: So what? Because it’s not a matter of liking or not liking it. Honestly, that’s the most worthless feedback one can give to an agency."

“When creatives present their idea, we always ask: So what? Because it’s not a matter of liking or not liking it. Honestly, that’s the most worthless feedback one can give to an agency.”

Vic Dresen

Marketing Manager at Burger King

Kenny can only agree and truly believes in each to his own expertise: "I’m a huge fan of tissue meetings and love to see that marketers are thinking along, but I don’t believe in joint brainstorming sessions. Each role has its strengths and we should keep that in mind." Vic adds: "The marketer provides a good briefing and knows where the brand is going. The creative knows exactly how to respond to the insight, in ways the marketer hasn’t thought of before. Together, you’re taking a risk. Together, you’re selling the idea to the board. Together, you’re a team." In the end, it’s not a matter of us-them thinking.

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In one tweet

So, how to make a difference in creativity? We asked our guests to summarise their interesting conversation in one tweet. You all know what that means: they only have 280 characters. Not easy, but they managed:

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Justine Trio

Justine Trio

Marketing Copywriter

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