Brand Beef

How Burger King takes curious pops at its (golden) arch rival...

Competitor brands normally do a good job of completely ignoring each other in their communications, but it’s intriguing when that’s not the case. Burger King has quite a history of beef (flame grilled, natch) with McDonald’s, and their latest swipe is one of strangest yet.

American agency David Miami has crafted a print campaign which features real pics of rather large homes owned by former McDonald’s big cheeses (so many burger puns on offer in this post), each boasting a patio grill and the assertion that “flame grilling is hard to resist” – flame grilling, of course, being Burger King’s point of difference.

Previous Burger King pops at their rival include dressing a Queens, New York, outlet up as the ghost of McDonald’s on Halloween. There’s a fine line in getting this type of stuff right – if you’re not careful, you can come across as bitter, twisted and perhaps a little overshadowed. But we reckon the rather random, and unexpected, nature of these executions sees them coming out well.



At our next Rise session in London, Crowd DNA’s resident parents, managing director Dr Matilda Andersson and associate director Lucy Crotty, set about reframing modern families...

Date: April 26

Time: 8.15am-9am

Location: Crowd DNA, 5 Lux Building, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU

Parental burnout, gender neutral toys, screen-time wars, feminist dads, LGBTQ+ families, postpartum body positivity – it seems we’re all too aware of the joys and perils of modern parenthood. And, as the next generation of millennial parents arrive and shake things up, the whole status quo of parenting is dramatically changing, too.

But are we speaking to and about families in the right way?

This session explores changing attitudes to parenthood and, in particular, how modern families are portrayed. Looking at some of the tensions and backlashes against ‘perfect parenting’, we’ll help brands identify new opportunities – and to speak better to families of all shapes and sizes.

If you’d like to join us for coffee, croissants and a very real, up-close journey into modern parenthood, please contact Pauline Rault. And feel free to pass the invite on to colleagues and estranged family members alike.

Watch the trailer below:


Crowd DNA’s Joey Zeelen looks at the sobering-up of Gen Z through his own experience of teen drinking...

Growing up in Holland in the noughties, my use of alcohol – or drugs, we’re talking Holland here – wasn’t any different to others my age. I started drinking at 15 and, like most millennials, alcohol was a big part of life. It formed my identity; it was the centre of socialising and the entirety of my teenage fun.

Saying that, it’s sometimes surprising to read about the sobering-up of Gen Z. Most explanations (health consciousness, well-being) fall flat when I think of the importance of alcohol during my own teen years. To understand this shift, I sought out some explanations on an internal level. When looking at my own drivers for teen drinking, Gen Z’s rejection of alcohol starts to make a lot more sense…


As a teen, alcohol shaped my sense of self and influenced the people I looked up to. Liam Gallagher, Kate Moss, music from Nirvana and gabber house – they were all inseparable from alcohol (and drugs). Now, icons like Lil Yachty and Adwoa Aboah promote a new culture of abstinence where it’s okay to say no. Intoxication is no longer a requirement of ‘cool’.


A big driver for teen drinking was experimentation. Alcohol made me feel different, brave; it enabled me to do things I’d not dare otherwise. But is this still relevant? When talking to Gen Z, it always strikes me how open they are to subjects that were once alien or embarrassing to me (unless drunk). Perhaps alcohol isn’t needed for experimentation anymore, and they are simply more capable of discovering on their own, sober, terms. It’s no doubt, too, that the online space has become a better and more efficient vehicle for discovery.

Social Connection

While socialising played out in the pub/club in my teen years, social connections now form in different spaces: usually in isolation, on social media or at home. Similarly, online entertainment and platforms now provide young people with the stimuli and experiences that would have once been gained by going out drinking with friends.


Long-story-short, I enjoyed alcohol because it enabled me to ‘let go’. Now, young people are so focused on results and prospects (not surprising when you look at the societal pressures they face), which must influence their ability to go wild or be unproductive the next day. On top of that, when they do party, they’re image conscious – why become embarrassingly drunk when it might be immortalised on social media?

But I doubt the desire to ‘let go’ has gone for Gen Z; it’s just taken on different forms. New indulgences now exist, which are better suited to their needs. We only have to look at the growing Xanax culture – linked to rappers like Lil Xan or Lil Peep – to see how, from a cultural stance, it makes sense. The effects of these drugs are less noticeable (or embarrassing), and offer a potential way of dealing with the pressures and anxieties of modern teenage-hood.

Secondary sources can help inform insights, but to really get to know young people and understand their drinking habits, we need to deep dive into their actual lives, needs and daily motivations, too. Sobering-up then makes a lot more sense through the eyes of a boozy millennial – cheers!

We get to work on lots of interesting and highly engaging projects at Crowd DNA, but collaborating with IKEA on the Clean Air brief was a particularly rewarding one...

With 80% of people who live in urban areas being exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organisation limit, this is a major topic. Unless action is taken now, the number of deaths will double by 2050 and will account for 12 every minute.

IKEA’s commitment to sustainability is widely recognised, with their ‘Better Everyday Life For The Many People’ maxim a major global talking point – which is where the clean air work fits in.

IKEA came to Crowd DNA requesting a comprehensive understanding of clean air (from awareness levels and misconceptions, to how it changes behaviour) in society around the world.

The first phase of the project looked to develop context and saw us producing a clean air report from extensive desk research and expert interviews – from leading toxicologists and start-ups CEOs on the front-line of air pollution innovation, to artists who are looking to creatively highlight the topic.

Stage two explored current consumer behaviours and attitudes related to clean air. We conducted mobile self-ethnography across the US, UK, China, Germany, Italy, Poland and India, using our understanding of behavioural science to better understanding true consumer behaviour in two key ways:

1. Mapping consumer behaviour/awareness over time to see if air pollution currently impacts how people live their lives

2. Providing our participants with air monitors to gauge personal air quality across their day to day lives, thus allowing us to see how increased awareness potentially disrupts behaviour.

Next, we visited each market to interview and film consumers in context, including reviewing their experiences with the air monitor devices and how much impact the data had on their actual lives. The filmed ethnography produced rich, narrative-led accounts of individual everyday experiences and how people really relate to the notion of clean air.

Embedding the findings in the IKEA business was a priority, too. We held collaborative innovation workshops to generate practical ideas for future product and service designs. IKEA have since used this insight and the ideas that came from these sessions to inform short and long term projects to tackle air pollution.

Alongside the workshops came an artworked and editorialised clean air survey, and a series of broadcast quality documentary films.

You can find out more about the Clean Air project here

Check out one of the films from the project below

We’re seeking one to join our Hoxton Square team, leading key projects in categories such as alcohol, retail, fashion, FMCG and media…

Cultural insights and strategy agency Crowd DNA is looking to recruit an associate director to join our London team, working on fabulously diverse and exciting projects for some of the biggest names around. The briefs we get are amazing – truly at the intersection of culture and brands. We want someone who can bring both provocative thinking and total diligence to this type of work.

You will report to our insight and innovation director, running priority projects and helping them to manage and mentor the wider team. Here’s what we’re looking for:

- You need to have the confidence and necessary experience to take the controls of large and sometimes complex projects

- And you’ll do so in a way that means you get the best out of the wider project team, ensuring we are collectively diligent and creative in equal measure

- Being able to point to particular experience in comms and brand development work will be a major asset; and an ability to engage credibly and strategically with senior client teams around these topics

- Demonstrating experience of working on multi-market projects is important

- An interest in trends and the type of brands and challenges that Crowd DNA gets involved with (look around this website if you need more of an idea) is a must, as is evidence of how you’ve met business challenges in the past

- We don’t necessarily expect you to have ticked off every one of the research methods we deploy at Crowd, but a broad swathe of experience in different techniques is expected

- Showing you can be creative with research and have the confidence to engage clients through exciting debrief approaches, including high grade workshop facilitation, is a must

- We want someone who’s enthusiastic about the idea of working alongside strategists, writers, film-makers and designers

- Moreover, we anticipate this role going to someone who fully appreciates – and indeed relishes the fact – that the world of ‘market research’ (we don’t much like that term…) is fast changing, and that factors such as strategic thinking, stakeholder engagement, storytelling and innovation are key to the future of this industry.

The role comes with a competitive salary and benefits, plus clear paths to promotion and to new opportunities. We anticipate you’re currently working in an insight agency, in a SC/RM role, or similar; perhaps already as an AD but looking for something new. It’s an entrepreneurial and energised environment, fast paced and collaborative. If you fancy working in a place where setting the agenda for the future of cultural insights and strategy is coded into the culture, please do get in touch, providing a covering letter and CV in the first instance.

We're seeking an experienced strategist for our London team; someone keen to work with A grade insight/trends specialists to bring exciting new dimensions to what we can offer our clients...

This is a brand new role at Crowd DNA (based in Hoxton Square, London), as we look to extend the capabilities offered in our cultural insight and innovation positioning.

The senior strategist role at Crowd DNA will have you collaborating with our best-in-class insight and innovation specialists, writers, designers and film-makers, providing the all-important strategic point of view that our clients demand.

You’ll come to us with five plus years of insight-fuelled strategy experience, most likely gained in an agency environment. You’ll be able to point to evidence of working with clients in categories such as media, alcohol, fashion and FMCG, on brand and comms briefs (essential) and (ideally) product/services ones, too.

You will be comfortable with the following-

- Working alongside others (specifically our insight, trends and innovation specialists) to arrive at strategic recommendations that are credible and inspiring

- Solid experience at crafting brand positions, consumer narratives, concepts, portfolio plans and similar strategy materials (thus first-rate writing skills are essential)

- Knowledge of strategy frameworks and when/where to apply them

- A confident, authoritative presenter and workshop facilitator

- Competent at switching modes from live projects to pitches and agency thought leadership

- Capable of negotiating with other team members on how/where/when to play a role in projects, managing your time effectively, and reaching clear decisions on where your skills are best deployed

- A demonstrable passion for culture and how it connects with strategy (let’s call that cultural strategy) – all points from the leading edge to the mainstream

- While this is not specifically a data-oriented role, being comfortable with ‘big’ data (alongside the more qualitative/trends-based findings that are at the heart of Crowd) would be helpful

- Experience of social media listening tools also useful

The role comes with a competitive salary/benefits (negotiable based on experience); some of the most stimulating and culturally-driven projects out there; and the opportunity to take a lead role in building something exciting and new in our business. To apply, please get in touch with Dr Matilda Andersson, attaching a CV and covering letter.

We're adding to our amazingly heroic project management team in London. Read on if this might be the job for you...

We’re seeking someone to add to our project management team at Crowd DNA. The project manager role entails working along our insight consultants, strategists and creatives to ensure we deliver high standard work for our clients at all times. Here’s what we’re after:

- A track record of working in insight; either as a project manager, field manager, or perhaps as a consultant who now favours a switch to the project management side of things

- Demonstrable skills in managing complex multi-market projects; including timelines, suppliers (field agencies, research platform providers etc), clients and budgets

- A deft multi-tasker with an agile approach to working alongside researchers and creatives

- Keen and capable of working with diverse digital platforms

- Strong problem-solving abilities and a knack for finding solutions where others can’t

- An appetite for developing new project management thinking and processes, and to innovating our approaches to running projects (both large and small)

- Strong communication skills; and an enthusiasm for upskilling the wider team in project management techniques

- An interest in the type of brands and challenges that Crowd DNA gets involved with

- So organised it’s completely insane…

The role comes with a competitive salary/benefits; a clear path to promotion and the opportunity to grow and to learn in a first-rate consultancy environment. To apply, please get in touch with Dr Matilda Andersson, attaching a CV and covering letter.