Mask gimmick lets Burger King customers order silently

Source: Burger King Belgium
Aug 28, 2020

Wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus is serious business and, in the U.S., it has even become a flashpoint of politicized controversy. In Belgium, however, Burger King has decided to have some fun with it.

The global burger chain has launched a social media contest in which 250 winners will receive custom-printed face masks featuring their favorite Burger King order on the front, according to Fast Company.

The humorous masks will theoretically allow those customers to enter Burger King locations and order without having to speak, preventing miscommunications that can arise from a spoken order muffled by a mask. Earlier in the pandemic, in Germany, Burger King released giant six-foot-wide novelty crowns to draw attention to social distancing in a fun way.

Since mid-March, retailers and brands have been working to find interesting angles to address mandatory masking. PPE brands, for example, have produced face guards and masks decorated with animal faces to make pandemic-era dentist trips less scary for kids. Small apparel brands have repurposed seasonal patterns into masks; luxury retailers are selling face coverings at price points above $100.


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Social distance level king.

A post shared by Burger King BE & LUX (@burgerkingbe) on

It is no surprise that Burger King, of all the major quick-serve restaurants, would be the one to have creative fun with masks and social distancing. Burger King, both in the U.S. and globally, has garnered a reputation for irreverent and topical advertising campaigns that have differentiated it from its more stolid competitor, McDonald’s.

An advertisement featuring a moldy old burger to highlight that the chain’s new burgers are preservative-free and a Halloween-themed burger purported to cause nightmares after eating it are but some of the snarky promotions the chain has recently run in the U.S.

Abroad some of the campaigns have been even bolder. Burger King Russia, for instance, launched its own cryptocurrency at the peak of 2017’s cryptocurrency boom.

In Belgium in 2017, the chain ran a branded “Whopper Bus” shuttle to pick up customers throughout Brussels and bring them to a Burger King location.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see lighthearted mask-related contests like Burger King’s as building goodwill and being a worthwhile marketing investment? What other similar sorts of moves might retailers, restaurants and brands take to advance their own branding and sales promotional efforts?

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16 Comments on "Mask gimmick lets Burger King customers order silently"

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Richard Hernandez
Richard Hernandez
Director, Main Street Markets
1 year 11 months ago

I have seen a lot of types of masks and it’s kind of cool and different to see fun and tongue in cheek masks. They still do their function, so why not have some fun?

Suresh Chaganti

I like it. They have been known for this kind of irreverent and tongue in cheek kind of campaign. It fits well with the brand expectations, and a it’s a great way to stay at the top of consumers’ minds.

Gene Detroyer

This is so much fun. Why limit it to 250? If I am Burger King, I want as many people as possible wearing their order in and out of the restaurant.

While I have seen many, many logo masks and humorous masks, I have not seen anything like the Burger King execution. This is perfect.

My advice to any company that wants to follow Burger King’s creativity: Keep it light, very light. Please don’t make the connection nakedly with you brand or company.

Again! Why limit it to 250 masks?

Georganne Bender

“You gotta get a gimmick, if you wanna get applause.” Burger King is the, well, king of gimmicks. These days you have to find new ways to keep customers engaged. This works and it’s fun. Why not?

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.

Having fun with the masks and social distancing requirements is a great idea. The approach can also help solidify the quirky nature and appeal of the company. Creating fun and reinforcing your company image is great synergy.

Ryan Mathews

There will always be some critics who will criticize them for making a joke out of a pandemic, but I’m not one of them. This is clever, on-brand, and reinforces the importance of wearing a mask, which is a very serious issue. And like all great marketing ploys this is getting them a ton of free media, while building a sense of community. Any moves that can do all those things ought to be a winner. My advice though is whatever other companies do, they should be careful to do it tastefully, respect the science, and not toot their own horns too much.

Cathy Hotka

Pure marketing genius at zero cost!

Ed Rosenbaum

Masks with logos or other printed text certainly gets more attention than the plain blue mask most of us are wearing. We have to wear masks to be safe. So let’s enjoy a little humor while we are on this journey.

Shep Hyken

I call this serious fun. Taking a serious topic, such as social distancing and mask requirements, and having a little fun is exactly what we all need to do. This is a perfect way of expressing the rules, yet still having some fun. It doesn’t suggest masks are bad. On the contrary, it makes them stand out. How many times do you see someone in a mask and say, “Nice mask!” It happens when there is a color, a sports team, or even a corporate logo. This is exactly the way retailers need to think. None of us want to wear masks, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with them.

Bindu Gupta

Exactly my thoughts! Great initiative by Burger King to encourage people to wear masks in a fun and engaging way.

Dr. Stephen Needel

Make more!

Rachelle King

Well if you can’t beat this virus (yet), why not join your customers in preventing it from spreading? This is smart, irreverent and humorous; very much on-brand for Burger King.

It’s an understated way of saying hey, we may be at this for a while longer than any of us would like; here’s how we can make the best of it for our customers and our brand. An encouraging approach that both retailers and brands can leverage to connect with customers in a meaningful, relevant, yet lighthearted way during these uncertain times.

Mel Kleiman

I hope that every retailer and restaurant and hospitality company in the country reads about this promotion. If they are smart they will at least take the first step and figure out some neat masks for their employees. Make it fun for customers to come into the store. Also, figure out how to get those customers to wear the mask. This is low-cost marketing. It can maybe even turn mask marketing into a profit center.

Ricardo Belmar
Ricardo Belmar
Retail Transformation Thought Leader, Advisor, & Strategist
1 year 11 months ago

Pure brilliance! At the end of the day, marketing and advertising are about getting attention to your brand. Burger King has done just that in a very light-hearted, humorous way, that even conveys their position encouraging mask-wearing. Kudos to their team for another great campaign!

Brett Busconi
1 year 11 months ago

I think this is fun and that people need to have as much good, clean fun as they can these days. Building the feel of safety in with visitation is a smart play. If restaurants need to put/keep dividers in place, perhaps they can make them in a way that allows for temporary customization by patrons?

Craig Sundstrom

I’m curious if they were printed in Flemish as well, or maybe the promo was only in the French-speaking portion of the country.

But enough trivialities: I applaud the thinking — dare we say “putting your money(maker) where your mouth is”? But it seems far too limited to do much good: they should send a free one to anyone who asks … non?


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