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A Look at Campaigns for Classic QSR and Food Brands

Classic quick serve restaurant and food brands continue their creative quest to increase awareness and market share. We look at some memorable current campaigns during this festive time of year.

Burgers Sizzle on the Scene
Burgers are a staple of Western food culture, which means fast food chains around the world have long heralded their offerings as being better than the competition. In the midst of this ongoing war, Buzzman creative agency debuted a novel two-minute spot, called “Iconic,” for the French market. It starts with a couple in a quick serve restaurant debating which establishment serves the best burger—McDonald’s, Q Burger, Five Guys, Quick ‘n’ Toast, Bio Burger—then explodes into a heated argument involving countless patrons, workers, and even police officers, all passionately declaring fealty to their favorite chain. Only at the end of the spot, when the first couple’s Whoppers arrive at their table and they agree to the superiority of that offering, do viewers understand that they just watched a Burger King ad. “Let’s face it, people are not exclusive to Burger King,” said Julien Levilain, managing director of Buzzman. “They go to McDonald’s, KFC, Quick, PNY and a lot of other burger brands and shops where they have their favorites. In our latest campaign, we’ve decided to embrace this versatility and turn it into an endless and passionate debate about the best burger in town.”

In other burger news, McDonald’s channels Willy Wonka in its latest holiday-timed giveaway. From December 5 until Christmas Day, patrons can enter a special sweepstakes for a chance to score the legendary McGold Card, which—like Roald Dahl’s Golden Ticket—gives one lucky winner (plus three of that person’s family or friends) free McDonald’s food for life. An accompanying 30-second spot highlights the life-altering possibilities of what it means to be “McDonald’s rich” via this victory. “Our fans have been fascinated by the lore of the McGold Card and if it really exists,” said Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s USA chief marketing and customer experience officer. “And now, we’ll make this McDonald’s legend a reality for our fans by giving them the ultimate holiday gift—a chance to win a card and then share access to it with three of their family or friends.”

Sweet Treats
Sex and the City can perhaps be credited with making New York City’s Magnolia Bakery famous in 2020, after featuring two characters eating cupcakes outside the Greenwich Village shop. Now, the internationally renowned bakery has released its first 15-second television spot to promote the fact that its irresistible desserts (looking at you, banana pudding) can be shipped to any US location. Several animated versions of the famous treats—a cupcake, a cookie, a brownie, a cup of banana pudding—talk excitedly about getting on planes and arriving to far-flung destinations. “Magnolia Bakery is such an iconic New York brand,” said David Yankelewitz, co-founder and creative director at Public Display of Affection creative studio. “It’s an honor and pleasure to help them go national.”

From cupcakes to seasonally festive gingerbread, Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts brand just crafted a gingerbread house made entirely out of breakfast toaster pastries—then listed it on Zillow, to help celebrate the reappearance of its limited-edition Frosted Gingerbread Pop-Tarts. Described as a .0006-acre property “north of Wild Berry Woods in the foothills of the Applefritterlachians,” it further boasts a Frosted Chocolate Chip archway and an Eggo Frosted Maple Flavor area rug. The activation is meant to infuse a dose of much-needed humor and comfort into the current turbulent real estate market, which is facing low inventory combined with record-high mortgage rates. Consumers browsing real-estate sites this holiday season might come across the cozy Pop-Tarts gingerbread abode and be inspired to create their own sweet home, then post it on Instagram or Twitter with #GingerbreadPopTartEntry for a chance to win $15,000 from the brand.

Food for Laughs
Apart from burger chains, other QSR marketers are likewise in a fighting mood. Though Popeyes called an end to last year’s chicken wars by unveiling its “we come in peace” nuggets, the multinational chain is now retracting that truce by debuting its Blackened Chicken Sandwich, a menu offering four years in the making. A series of TV spots bearing tongue-in-cheek titles like “The Mole” and “The Snitch” poke fun at how competitors are trying to steal the recipe for this coveted, non-breaded chicken sandwich. Running through December in the US and also launching in Canada, ad buys include streaming platforms and linear TV, plus placements on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and—for the first time—Reddit.  

The holidays are a time to indulge in comfort food, sample sweet treats, and have fun with unexpected offerings. Happy, Merry Everything!