Fernando Machado, who announced his departure from Restaurant Brands International Thursday, is joining Activision Blizzard as chief marketing officer. He will start the new role on April 12.
“Fernando is a marketing powerhouse with a proven track record of bringing bold and innovative marketing campaigns to life and brings a wealth of experience, having led multifaceted marketing teams on some of the biggest and most recognized brands in the world,” Daniel Alegre, president and COO, Activision Blizzard, told Adweek.
Machado will move from selling burgers, chicken sandwiches and coffee to marketing to a global gaming community. Activision Blizzard owns popular titles like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Candy Crush and includes more than 400 million players around the world.
The booming world of esports
Like many in-home entertainment companies, Activision Blizzard saw a banner year in 2020.
Net revenue was $8.09 billion, compared to $6.49 billion for 2019, according to the February’s full-year earnings release. Activision Blizzard incurred more than $1.15 billion in sales and marketing costs in the last year, $150 million more than in 2019, a sign that Machado will have a sizable marketing budget to work with.
With the rise of esports’ popularity, the category has attracted top talent in the world of marketing in recent years. Daniel Cherry III led marketing for Activision Blizzard Esports for two and a half years, a post he left last fall to join DC Comics as the WarnerMedia brand’s svp and general manager.
Current CMO David Messinger will be leaving the company but will stay on to assist with the transition. Messinger joined the esports giant in 2019 after years in the entertainment industry where he held senior marketing roles at brands including The Walt Disney Company and Ticketmaster.
Machado also follows in the footsteps of Tim Ellis, who was Activision Blizzard’s chief marketer for seven years before leaving for the NFL in 2018.
The genius behind Burger King’s award-winning marketing
As top marketer at Burger King and RBI, Machado’s work drew accolades from across the industry—making him something of a celebrity in the world of marketing. In 2018, Adweek named him Grand Brand Genius, and the next year Burger King won Direct Grand Prix at Cannes for its “Whopper Detour” campaign.
The divisive, yet iconic, “Moldy Whopper” campaign was predicted to be a favorite at Cannes last year, but the event was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Still, RBI’s innovation didn’t slow as the pandemic dragged on. Under Machado’s leadership, Burger King unveiled a retro rebrand that was really more of a return to simplicity. The brand’s Women’s History Month campaign, however, fell flat when the social media execution undermined the message of removing gender barriers in the culinary industry.