Burger King makes Peace Day deals with Denny’s and more after McDonald’s dismissal
Sometimes when a rival has a great idea, the best plan is to be game and play along. Public image is everything for brands right now, and no matter how fierce your competition is and how much of your focus is on turning your sales around, it’s possible—and maybe even necessary—to put away that competition for a short time in the name of some lighthearted cross-promotional fun. This is a lesson that McDonald's may be learning after the events of the past few days—events that others can learn from as well.
Last week, Burger King went full force with a video, website, and full-page ads in the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune proposing a one-day “Burger Wars ceasefire” plan to raise awareness for the upcoming United Nations International Day of Peace. The plan involved a one-day pop-up shop in Atlanta—the halfway point between McDonald’s Chicago headquarters and BK’s own HQ in Miami—where staff from both institutions would serve “McWhoppers” using an equal amount of ingredients from the Big Mac and the Whopper, with proceeds benefiting non-profit organization Peace One Day. With packaging and uniform concepts already designed, all McDonald’s had to do was sign off and show up.
A proposal that large and public put McDonald’s in a somewhat difficult position from the outset. As Forbes contributor Will Burns pointed out last week, there was no option that allowed McDonald’s to come out looking better than Burger King—agree and you’re criticized as a follower, but decline and you’re branded a wet blanket at best. At worst, McDonald’s haters are given plenty of ammunition to call McDonald’s peace-hating warmongers. That’s not a good look for anyone.
But such a proposal can't simply be ignored either, and of those two choices, opting to play along seemed to most to be a clear winner. Unfortunately, McDonald’s went the killjoy route and put a stop to the proposal almost as soon as it was offered. McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook posted to Facebook an ultra-serious dismissal that seemed to criticize the idea as frivolous while at the same time calling Burger King out for going overboard:
It’s understandable for McDonald’s to bristle at the thought that this is as much a publicity stunt for Burger King as anything else. But it was an ingeniously savvy one, one that understood what consumers are looking for right now—lighthearted marketing, smart CSR campaigns, and a social media-worthy dining experience—and recognized the impact that the brief partnership could have. On the frivolous end, it could have been an undeniably fun pop-up with no strings attached that would get consumers talking. On the more serious side, if McDonald’s and Burger King could lay down their differences and make peace for a day, why can’t everyone?
But as it turns out, Burger King didn’t have to be disappointed for long: a lot of other brands saw a golden opportunity in the opening that McDonald’s left behind. On Monday Denny’s posted full-page ads of its own in USA TODAY and the New York Times, picking up on the fun mood of Burger King’s original ad and suggesting that the two join forces instead to create a Whopper-Grand Slam hybrid:
On a more regional scale, slider burger chain and Atlanta native Krystal took to social media as well to propose a partnership built on Southern hospitality and tiny square slider versions of a Whopper:
Brazil-based chain Giraffas suggested a combination of the Whopper and its own Brutus Burger:
Meanwhile U.S. regional brand Wayback Burgers came forth with an offer of a Triple Triple-Whopper combo (Whiple Whiple perhaps?) to raise money for UNICEF on Peace Day:
Burger King didn't take long to respond to these offers. On Tuesday the burger chain announced that they’re going need a bigger table to make room for all of the partnerships now underway—and it’s still leaving room at that table for McDonald’s should they decide to come around after all:
All of this proves further the ingenious nature of Burger King’s proposal: even with its original intentions falling through, something great is building out of all of this attention and increasing momentum. At this point is it too late for McDonald’s to participate? It’s possible that they could send a begrudging image and do even more harm than good, just one of several participants. But it could also be a saving move, show that they are good sports and willing to get in board for a good cause. It will be interesting to see if they reverse their position. But even if they don’t, it’s shaping up to be an inspiring International Day of Peace after all.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”