Katie Evans | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2019

Katie Evans

Marketing Director

Burger King

“Brands need to let their agencies in so that they have the insights and collaborative support needed to be more challenging and creative.”

Katie Evans has been with Burger King since early 2018, having previously led a successful brand repositioning at Gourmet Burger Kitchen. During her time at GBK, national brand awareness doubled and the business enjoyed 19 quarters of like-for-like sales growth. Since joining Burger King UK, Evans has repositioned the brand, refreshed the agency roster, given the go-ahead for a bolder, cheekier approach on social media, and instigated brave, creative campaigns to drive relevance and reignite love for the iconic Whopper. This year, she has led the BK Meltdown campaign, when the brand boldly turned up the heat on the fast food industry and announced that it would stop giving away toys with its kids’ meals. The resulting comms campaign garnered significant media attention, with eight billion impressions, and will save an annual 320 tonnes of plastic going to landfill. Most importantly, it prompted sustainability pledges from other fast food operators.

In what way(s) does PR/communications need to innovate the most?
I think the industry needs to continue pushing the boundaries on creativity to cut through and drive real engagement. These can be simple, reactive ideas, as long as they are grounded in clear insight and audience understanding. They don't need to be hugely complex, high budget campaigns to be successful. Some of the simplest ideas are often the most effective.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
About the same as other marketing disciplines.

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Creative ideas.

How do you define innovation?
Innovation is a brave idea that drives real and lasting change in approach, thinking or behaviour.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Carlsberg Probably Not the Best Lager in the World – I loved the honesty and transparency of this campaign.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
Paddy Power, Guinness and, after their campaign this year, Carlsberg.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
The launch of BK Meltdown this year is one of the most innovative projects I've worked on. We knew we wanted to remove plastic toys from kids’ meals, we knew it was the right thing to do and in line with our sustainability agenda. However, our decision to be the first mover on this and push the button, removing plastic toys overnight was a significant step for our brand. We created an engaging consumer campaign, driving the message on sustainability and our commitment. I think this change was unexpected for a brand like Burger King and I'm proud that we had the opportunity and the commitment to deliver it.

Most underrated trait in a PR person? 
Their loyalty and commitment to the brands they work on.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Get away from my laptop, get some fresh air, go for a run and spend some time with my family and friends.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
I think the industry needs to be comfortable with taking more risks. To do that, they need to truly understand the brand and the customer. I think brands need to let their agencies in so that they have the insights and collaborative support needed to be more challenging and creative.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
What next on Whopper?

What one movie, book, TV show or podcast do you recommend to rent, read or stream tonight?
Succession. The music, the family politics…Kendall's rap.