Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards

How Burger King Found Kuwait’s Own Cristiano Ronaldo

Advertising Agency
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Burger King Kuwait’s Zeinab Najjar and M&C Saatchi Group's Camila Venegas and Silvia Carreño Vera on celebrating vegetarian options and creating a ‘SIUUU’ moment, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

Fast food giant Burger King Kuwait has enlisted the help of a familiar face in their brand new campaign with agency M&C Saatchi Group and production company DejaVu. Setting the scene with football trophies, old pictures and a familiar story, Cristiano Ronaldo shows up and steals the show… Well, almost.

With several options on its global menu, Burger King Kuwait saw the need to include vegetarian options locally, however, meat is a staple in the country and it needed a way to engage the audience while celebrating healthier alternatives. That’s where Saki comes in, the professional footballer and Ronaldo lookalike who steals the show with humorous dialogue, clever copywriting and shots to match. 

Filmed across two days in Bulgaria, the script took a month to curate in both English and Arabic, which meant extra lines of dialogue and several different options to keep things flexible on the day. Landing on its final line, “Some things just aren't as good as the original”, the spot has so far gained international recognition for its humour and production value.

Speaking to LBB’s Nisna Mahtani about the spot are Burger King Kuwait's marketing director Zeinab Najjar and M&C Saatchi Group’s creative director Camila Venegas Gomez and creative copywriter Silvia Carreño Vera. 

LBB> What was the starting point for launching Burger King's newest range of plant-based products?

Zeinab> We realised there was a need for more vegetarian options, with the number of people demanding it slowly increasing. There was also a general need for alternative meat products to support the consumer trends of lower meat consumption and new vegetarian lifestyle choices. 

LBB> Can you tell us about some of the challenges of having vegetarian products in the region and how you overcame them?

Zeinab> Product sourcing due to the covid pandemic had impacted our overall worldwide supply chain, and we had to plan 1.5 years in advance to make this product launch happen.  Kuwait is a heavy meat-eater market. For this to be a success, we had to bring the meat-eaters on our side and excite them to try our new plant-based range. The population size of pure vegetarians is very small, and if we focused on only targeting them, we would not be able to achieve the desired impact in the market we wanted and needed. The campaign needed to cast a wider net and target vegetarians, flexitarians, and meat-eaters.  

LBB> Why did you choose to take a comedic route and why does it work so well with the brand?

Camila & Silvia> Burger King is a brand that characterises itself as being innovative in how it talks and builds connections with its audience. We needed to create that emotional connection with our Kuwaiti audience, and as our data shows, Kuwaiti's passion points are comedy, drama and football. So, combining the three of them into one entertaining comedy piece sounded just perfect. 
Zeinab> We wanted to introduce the product in a manner that would resonate, stand out and be loved within the local market. Humour, done right, is a great tool to achieve large-scale awareness, education and reach. 

LBB> Where was the campaign shot and how long did the filming process take?

Camila & Silvia> The campaign was shot in Bulgaria. It took us two days to film and a few more days to scout the proper locations for each scene. We chose to shoot in Bulgaria because it was far away from the GCC region's visual environment, which helped set the story in a non-traditional or 'real' environment and time. 

LBB> We know that the Cristiano Ronaldo doppelganger does this full time, but how did you ensure he was able to deliver the comedic value you wanted?

Camila & Silvia> The director [Nalle Sjöblad] was vital in delivering the comedic value. CR's doppelganger's name is Saki, he's a professional footballer, and yes, sometimes he works impersonating Cristiano Ronaldo in football scenarios. He's not an actor, a risk we all decided to take because it was all about looks and charisma. Luckily for us, he got the joke and the message we wanted to deliver from the beginning, so whenever Nalle asked him to land a line differently or with a different tone, he would try again until he nailed it.
Zeinab> We reviewed lots of look-alikes, with some looking more like Ronaldo, but we wanted someone with a real attitude and enthusiasm for the role. It was important for us that his natural charisma came through in the acting. 

LBB> 'Some things just aren't as good as the original, Burger King's new Plant-Based Whopper is.' How did you come up with this copy and how long did it take to create this and the rest of the script?

Camila & Silvia> The script took us about one month to finalize! No jokes! It was a team effort between us and Nalle [the film's director]. We worked together to take those jokes to the next level. In the end, we had a document with 20 or 25 extra lines in case we wanted to shift them around depending on how Saki delivered the joke. It was a really fun process but definitely a challenging one. 

The copy, "Some things just aren't as good as the original, Burger King's new Plant-Based Whopper is", is the natural extension of the concept and key thought (as good as the original). It expresses the idea of the whole campaign while communicating the product benefit in a fun and engaging way.
Zeinab> When targeting flexitarians and traditional meat-eaters of the original products, it was very important to spark their curiosity for the plant-based alternative by focusing on the taste attributes. This is why the Burger King plant-based range was created in the first place; to emulate the taste of the original meat so that it can eliminate any negative reputation of vegetarian food in the market. We wanted to cut through the clutter and showcase confidence in the product. Skip the meat, but not the flavour or experience of the Burger King brand. In line with our challenger brand positioning, we like to make bold statements that grab attention and that are ultimately backed up by our restaurant and operational expertise. 

LBB> The backing sound works perfectly in adding comedic value to the spot. How did you land on this particular music?

Camila & Silvia> Yes, this was inspired by the ‘surreal’ environment we wanted to create around the character and where the story takes place. Every detail counts, and the music had to convey those naïve, cheerful vibes.  
Zeinab> The choice of music was intentionally made to enhance the comedic value of the production, as it amplifies the true status of the doppelganger, yet it’s a contradiction to the persona that he has created for himself.


LBB> How has the audience responded to the campaign so far? Have there been any memorable reactions?

Camila & Silvia> Really well, to be honest, we're getting great feedback from the audience and the industry. People can't stop laughing and expressing surprise simultaneously when they understand the reveal. The campaign has worked very well; the product is still selling, and our character is still famously loved. 
Zeinab> There was a very positive reception to both the product and the campaign. Many people were not aware that this was a local initiative from the Kuwait market, and it was presumed, due to the high production values linked with the idea, that this was an International Burger King initiative and not a local one. 

LBB> What else can we expect to see from Burger King in the future?

Camila & Silvia> More fun, laughter and weirdness! We are on the right track to continue entertaining, surprising, and delighting our local and global audience, positioning Burger King as a fun and engaging challenger brand.
Zeinab> Bigger and bolder marketing campaigns, activations and technology-rich experiences that will be uniquely relevant and positioned to promote our brand and its products. We will keep driving towards further enriching our customer experience by continuing to push a customer-centric approach, both in marketing and operational excellence, to really deliver on ‘your way’.

LBB> Is there anything else you'd like to share / tell us about?

Camila & Silvia> It's really pleasing to see how a brand that takes a risk and challenges the traditional way of communication, ironically in such a traditional format, is celebrated and embraced by the audience.

Zeinab> Stay tuned for what's to come, as a team, we would rather show you than tell you because that's really the only way to do it!

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