Fast-food brands usually jump at any chance to troll McDonald's. But in an unexpected twist, Fernando Machado, global CMO of Popeyes, Burger King and Tim Hortons parent Restaurant Brands International, is sticking up for his rival.
McDonald's has been getting flamed on social media after McDonald's Brasil separated the brand's Golden Arches to encourage social distancing.
Author Jeetendr Sehdev wrote a LinkedIn post about the campaign, stating that brands that choose to join the coronavirus conversation need "to show that they genuinely care." Machado responded that he wouldn't judge McDonald's based on an isolated activity in one country.
"[McDonald's does] a lot to support communities, and I am pretty sure this is not the only thing they are doing during COVID-19," wrote Machado. "And they've heard the public feedback and pulled this one off, I think."
McDonald's digital marketing consultant Don Sajith thanked Machado for being a good sport.
"All of us are suffering so we are all in this together," wrote Sajith. "Wishing you and everyone in your front lines and the whole value chain best of luck."
Machado told PRWeek that although McDonald's is a competitor, it isn't an enemy.
"We respect a lot of the work they do," he said. "The fact that they are good forces us to try to do even better. I see it as healthy competition. And, honestly, this is an industry that offers opportunities for all brands to grow."
Machado said he felt like he "had to say something" when he saw the LinkedIn post generalizing that McDonald's wasn't doing the right thing in terms of supporting people.
"It's not time for that type of unfair judgement," he said. "And maybe hearing that from a competitor would help people reflect upon it.
Machado is the mastermind of Burger King's recent bold campaigns, such as the Whopper Detour, in which the brand told consumers to go to McDonald's locations to unlock a deal for a penny Whopper using the Burger King app.