Burger King Is Advertising a ‘Quarantine Whopper’ You Can Make at Home

French agency Buzzman gives quarantined fans the next-best option as locations remain closed

An overlay of hamburger buns, ketchup, onions, pickles, ketchup, beef, mayonnaise, tomatoes and more buns
With all restaurants closed due to COVID-19 in France, the nation's Burger King division is advertising a make-your-own Whopper. Burger King France
Headshot of David Griner

Advertising in the quarantine era is no simple task.

Many companies are simply closed for business, meaning there’s not much to advertise anyway. And those that do still have things to promote have to walk a delicate line of sensitivity, with tremendous brand risk for those who botch their messaging during these unprecedented times.

Burger King France has boldly stepped up to the challenge, and the result is notable both for its quality and the fact that all Burger King locations in France are actually closed right now.

The ad from Paris agency Buzzman, “Le Whopper de la Quarantine,” or “Quarantine Whopper,” shows an array of store-bought ingredients that the chain’s fans can use to approximate a Whopper at home:

The brand’s tweet today featuring the ad got a lot of love from French (and global) audiences. Within less than eight hours, it had more than 9,000 likes and 2,000 retweets, with some even responding with their real-life recreations:

Although he’s proud of the ad and the positive response it has received, Burger King global CMO Fernando Machado said what’s most important during this time is that brands respond to the crisis in substantive ways—something he believes BK parent company Restaurant Brands International has done.

“I think that before jumping on ads, brands need to take action,” Machado told Adweek. “There are lots of good examples of brands helping people via concrete actions that help communities. In times like this, we all need to help.”

He points to how Burger King is giving away kids’ meals via its mobile app, especially helpful to parents whose children might otherwise not have access to meals while schools are closed. Tim Hortons, also owned by RBI, is giving away coffee and baked goods to healthcare professionals and first responders. And Popeyes, the holding company’s other major restaurant chain, has been supporting the nonprofit No Kid Hungry.

“Now, if you are already doing something to help, maybe you earn the right to engage with fans with ads, promotions or social media materials,” Machado said. “And, yes, I say ‘maybe.’ It really depends on what type of brand you have, the situation in the country you are considering to advertise, among others. I would recommend a good dose of common sense before doing anything.”

Given that Burger King France is already contributing in larger ways than advertising, Machado felt it was appropriate for the brand to continue its “fun, entertaining and a bit daring” marketing tone with the Quarantine Whopper concept.

“The specific post we are talking about was extremely well received in France,” he said. “It’s really great to have strong creative partners who get the brand and understand the complete context in the market. In this case, Buzzman was the agency behind the creative. And Alex Simone and Carole Rousseau were the local clients that made it happen.”

Here are three other executions specific to other Burger King France menu items:

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@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."