2020 - the year that brought competing brands together

2020 has brought with it a lot of unexpected events. From countries around the world going into complete shutdown to protect their residents, to 100 year olds raising millions to support the NHS and surprisingly competitors in business working together to help their sectors survive the restrictions placed on them to help reduce the spread of viruses.

In fact, just last month, one business took many of us by surprise by encouraging its customers to buy from its biggest rival.

Burger King is known world-wide to taunt McDonald's (sometimes incessantly) as part of its wider marketing strategies. However, as the pandemic drove people across the UK and throughout Europe back into a second lockdown, the company took to Twitter to urge customers to order from its rivals and others including Taco Bell and KFC.

In a tweet, the chain said: “Order from McDonald’s. We never thought we’d be asking you to do this. Just like we never thought we’d be encouraging you to order from KFC, Quick, O’Taco’s, Domino’s Pizza, Subway, Eat Sushi…or any other large and independent food outlets, too numerous to mention here. In short, from any of our sister food brand, fast and not so fast.“

“We never thought we’d be asking you to do this, but restaurants employing thousands of staff really need your support at the moment. So, if you want to help, keep treating yourself to tasty meals through home delivery, takeaway or drive-thru. Getting a Whopper is always best, but ordering a Big Mac is also not such a bad thing.”

It’s refreshing to see bigger companies that have a larger voice, use their platforms to spread the word about ways to support the industry and help other companies survive this difficult time. The hospitality sector is the UK's third-largest employer, according to the industry body UK Hospitality, and it is struggling massively.

Many workers were placed on furlough during the first and second national and local lockdowns as restaurants, cafés, and bars were forced to close. This has had a hugely negative impact on businesses in the sector and, although government is trying to support it the best it can through grant funding and other schemes, unfortunately, we have already seen many pubs, restaurants and retailers close their doors for the final time.

It doesn’t look like it will be stopping any time soon too. Earlier this month most of the UK was put into tough tier 3 restrictions, which includes a ban on all on-site dining, though restaurants and cafes can still offer takeaway for delivery or collection. On Monday, it was announced that London and many other southern regions would be joining their northern neighbours and being placed in the third tier too.

In response to this, Burger King stepped up once again to offer support for others in the industry, this time focusing on independent businesses throughout the UK.

On Tuesday, the company revealed it will promote small and independent restaurants on its Instagram account for free to help them through tighter UK restrictions.

With a social media post entitled, ‘There’s more to life than a Whopper’, Burger King said: "There are many great dishes from thousands of restaurants that deserve to be as famous as the Whopper. As we head into tier three across more parts of the country, it is clear independent restaurants need all our support. So, we’ve decided to give you a break from our burger pics and make our Instagram available to all these restaurants. Until they can reopen, they can advertise on our Instagram for free. Friends from the hospitality industry: if you want to share your signature dish on Instagram, post it with #WhopperandFriends.”

Within minutes of the announcement being posted, up and down the country Chefs began preparing their Instagram worthy dishes and owners and marketing managers started posting pictures and making the most of the support offered to them. Shortly after the hashtag #WhopperandFriends went viral and thousands and thousands of fantastic businesses and their signature dishes were being showcased to millions of people across the globe. 

This approach has already had a great impact for many, with some companies tweeting their thanks and reporting that they have seen a rise in awareness and sales for their business. In fact, the campaign has worked so well that Burger King has introduced it to other countries across Europe including France, and they may extend it even further.

From a PR and marketing perspective this campaign is simple, but ingenious. Not only has Burger King boosted its reputation both in the public eye and amongst its peers within the industry, but everyone is talking about the company.

We would be highly surprised if this wasn’t part of the plan though. After all, the whole point in marketing, whether it is for your company or as a part of your corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy, is to raise awareness of your business, products and services too. So, although Burger King is focusing on spreading the word about others, they’re not doing a bad job of getting everyone to talk about their own brand in the process. After all, how many times have we mentioned them in this blog?

Burger King isn’t the only one doing its bit.  Throughout South Yorkshire we have seen companies offering support to others in their sectors. From restaurants and pubs working as one to offer ‘big night in’ takeaway packages to consumers to help drive sales, to suppliers banding together to offer full service solutions. Companies across the county are keen to ensure as many of their fellow businesses survive this unprecedented and economically challenging time.

From our perspective, we have been offering our support to smaller charitable organisations, such as the Work-Wise Foundation to spread the word about their upcoming events and activities. As we believe this is another sector that needs as much help as possible. Keep an eye on our news section for more details of this, coming soon.

Finally, if we were to take one thing from 2020 into 2021, we believe it should be this level of solidarity and understanding that has grown both amongst the business community and with people in general, after all, this year has taught us that it’s always better to be together.

If you run a hospitality or food manufacturing business or are a b2b supplier to the industry and are looking for support with spreading the word about your company and boosting sales to help you get back on track, we can help.

Here at Dragonfly PR we have years of experience in helping our customers raise awareness and reach new audiences, whether that’s introducing new sectors or moving from B2B into B2C. All our PR strategies are developed bespoke to suit your products, audience, brand and budget and have been proven to increase awareness and sales for our clients.

For more information or to speak to a member of our team about how we can help call 01143 495345 or email hello@dragonflypr.co.uk.

Dragonfly PR is a Sheffield-based PR and digital marketing agency that specialises in media relations, content marketing and organic SEO for constructionmanufacturing and food companies.

Call us on: 0114 349 5341