MIAMI: Burger King VP of global communications and culture Miguel Piedra, who has worked at the fast-food chain for three years, has co-founded his own firm called Rock Orange.
The agency, which launched in January, is serving as AOR for Burger King's global corporate communications, internal communications, executive communications, issues management, and meetings management.
“In the middle of last year, I talked to my bosses at Burger King, and I said, ‘My best friend and I want to open up our own agency.' They said, ‘If you want to do it, we want to support you and we want to be your first client,'” recalled Piedra.
He added that the relationship between Burger King and Rock Orange is a “hybrid” approach where he is leading the account while still serving as head of communications for the brand. Piedra will also collaborate with the fast-food company's global internal communications team, including Bryson Thornton, who was hired as director of global communications last July.
Coyne Public Relations, which was brought on as Burger King's consumer AOR in September 2011, will remain in its role and continue to work on marketing communications, said Piedra.
Piedra and David Naranjo, whom Piedra has known since the 7th grade, developed the concept of Rock Orange. Naranjo, who is serving as principal at the agency, was previously VP of PR and marketing for entertainment company Estefan Enterprises.
“We're two lifelong best friends who have been the client for a really long time, and the whole philosophy of our agency is we're still going to think like a client,” said Piedra.
Rock Orange, which is headquartered in Miami and has an office in Chicago, will focus on a range of industries such as consumer, corporate, entertainment, and technology. Its services will include traditional PR, digital and social media, branding, US Hispanic efforts, and celebrity work.
The agency has a team of 11 staffers in Miami and Chicago. It is also planning to hire a digital practice lead, Piedra added.
In addition to Burger King, Rock Orange is AOR for internal communications for Driven Brands, which owns Maaco and Meineke, and for the I Am Second/Yo Soy Segundo movement. The agency also handles marketing strategy, brand development, and media relations for Estefan Entertainment and Hospitality; project work for Zumba Fitness; project work for Casa De Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic; and brand development and PR for author and poet Richard Blanco, who served as the inaugural poet at President Barack Obama's second inauguration.
The firm's name is a combination of the English translations of the business partners' last names. Piedra's surname means “rock” in English, while Naranjo's is translated to “orange.”
Prior to his three-year stint at Burger King, Piedra spent 10 years at Walt Disney in various roles in the US and Europe, including head of communications for Disney Parks. Before that, Piedra was a TV reporter.