Call of Duty fans recently had a chance to enjoy food from the video game’s Burger Town restaurant in real life.
To celebrate the release of the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot in October, video game publisher Activision partnered with Burger King to turn one of its locations in Long Beach, Calif. into the game’s fictional fast food joint for a day.
The fully operational restaurant, which was open to the public, served menu items inspired by the game and also featured an esports competition hub where fans could face off against professional gamers a day before it was released.
The two brands tapped visual and digital merchandising agency Five Hundred Degrees Studio to produce the activation, a project that took around three weeks to create from concept to execution.
The game maker landed on the Burger Town pop-up to promote Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s release because of an “inevitable overlap in audiences” between Burger King and gamers, according to Kim Hughes, chief client officer of Five Hundred Degrees Studio. (And in the game, Burger Town closely resembles the home of the Whopper.)
“We thought this would be a cool opportunity to break the fourth wall with the gaming community,” Hughes said. “We wanted to bring Burger Town to life and embrace that visual overlap with Burger King.”
Elements of the takeover included redesigned menu boards and decor inside the restaurant that referenced the game, and exterior Burger Town signage that replaced Burger King. The pop-up also included a giant inflatable of the in-game restaurant’s mascot, Bubby the Burger Town Boy.
Along with serving Call of Duty-themed meals throughout the day, the pop-up drew gamers via Burger King’s social platforms to participate in a four-hour competition housed in a tent in the restaurant’s parking lot. Participants could play the new game against Burger King’s mascot as well as professional esports players Scump and FaZe Apex for a chance to win prizes that included game consoles, branded merchandise and one Whopper sandwich a week for the next 15 years.
The competition was open to anyone, with Burger King and the participating pro gamers spreading the word on their social media accounts. For people who couldn’t attend in person, the competition was livestreamed on Twitch, the Amazon-owned platform that’s becoming a popular marketing outlet for brands.
For fans who weren’t in the Los Angeles area, food delivery service Grubhub also offered special “Burger Town presented by Burger King” menus in 16 cities. Consumers who ordered from those locations on Grubhub were given codes to unlock bonus in-game content.
While there are no official plans for future Call of Duty-themed Burger King activations yet, Hughes noted that both brands have expressed interest in continuing their partnership for projects in other markets.
Burger King is just one of many non-esports brands that have launched efforts to engage with gamers this year. The dating platform Bumble formed an all-women’s Fortnite team to drive more women to esports, and Anheuser-Busch filed a trademark to legally become the official beer of esports.
Ian is an experiential marketing reporter for Adweek where he covers brand activations and experiential trends. Previously, he was an editor for BizBash where he covered events such as CES, Sundance Film Festival, NYC Pride, and C2 Montréal. Originally from Maryland, Zelaya also was a reporter for Baltimore Style magazine and Washington Jewish Week. He has a degree in mass communication from Towson University and lives in Brooklyn.