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Burgers, Beers & BnBs: Innovative Brand Partnerships For Summer 2020

July 1, 2020 Carolyn Harding

While many consumers had big plans for summer 2020, the ongoing health crisis has caused much of the public to feel hesitant when considering travel plans, celebrations and group gatherings. As a result, brands have had to get creative in their marketing efforts, leaning on strategic partnerships and the power of social media and interactive campaigns in order to reach consumers.

Burger King Taps Tesla For Impromptu Promotion

Just in time to kick off the summer season, Burger King launched its latest campaign, pulling inspiration from what some would consider a mishap from Tesla Autopilot’s new “Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control” feature. After seeing a video showing a Tesla smart car accidentally identifying a Burger King sign as a stop sign, the fast-food chain capitalized on the viral and humorous nature of the video, suggesting that smart cars are “so smart that they know to tap the brakes when nearing one of its [Burger King’s] restaurants,” according to AdAge.

Burger King encouraged consumers to share a picture or video of their smart car stopped at one of the fast-food restaurants using the hashtags #autopilotwhopper and #freewhopper on Twitter. BK lovers who submitted their entry received a free whopper from the fan-favorite chain. And while the interactive campaign and brand partnership was somewhat impromptu, it was undeniably successful, bringing in more than 1 million views on multiple Burger King videos.

As restaurants begin to re-open across the country, this latest marketing push from Burger King is very timely and proves the power of quick, smart action on social media as a means to get consumers into a brand’s place of business.

Busch Beer Creates A Puzzle With A Cause

Capitalizing on the spike in puzzle sales during the pandemic, Busch Beer is offering consumers a “golden ticket” to the dearly missed outdoors through an innovative jigsaw puzzle contest.

Busch Light medallion puzzle

The beer maker recently created a custom 525-piece puzzle, available for consumers to buy online for $30, featuring the famous “Busch Guy” holding a can of Busch Light. The twist, however, is that a select few puzzles will feature a gold can rather than the traditional Busch beer can. The lucky few who receive the gold can puzzle – and share a photo of the finished puzzle using the #BuschPuzzles and #Sweepstakes hashtags – will win $5,000 vacations in the great outdoors. Busch enticed consumers on social media with a tweet stating, “an indoor activity could lead to amazing outdoor adventures!”

Taking the campaign one step further, Busch partnered with the National Forest Foundation, donating $5 from every jigsaw puzzle purchase to the tour guides who have been impacted by the pandemic. The beer brand will likely be able to give back a hefty amount, as consumers have proven their love for jigsaw puzzles as of late, sending sales through the roof throughout the pandemic. Not to mention, the idea of a free, safe vacation following months of isolation is also likely to entice consumers to purchase the Busch puzzle.

Airbnb Inspires Travelers To Stay Local

As the travel industry continues to be one of the hardest hit industries by the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbnb launched its “Go Near” campaign, encouraging local travel as the industry begins to ease its way toward recovery. The online marketplace revealed a spike in bookings throughout the end of May and into early June, with stays for families up 55% year over year. According to Adweek, the Airbnb Go Near campaign was “partially inspired by a survey commissioned by the brand that showed that nearly half of its U.S. respondents said they’d prefer to stay within a day’s drive for their first trip after lockdown restrictions lift.”


“Tapping into the demand for nearby trips, we are updating our [the Airbnb] app and homepage to help guests rediscover the magic in their own backyards by making it easier to book local travel and last-minute stays by featuring local trip ideas and highlighting nearby getaways,” Airbnb shared in a recent blog post. “We will also launch an email and social media campaign under the banner Go Near to promote both nearby getaways and Airbnb Experiences.”

In addition to their Go Near campaign, Airbnb partnered with a slew of tourism marketing companies, including Visit Florida and the Bermuda Tourism Authority, and they also collaborated with the National Park Foundation to share information on less popular parks near travelers’ Airbnb vacation spots. “We want to work with governments and tourism agencies to help restore travel in a responsible way that benefits local citizens and small businesses economically, and allowing these organizations to leverage our platforms and channels—and reach hundreds of millions of people globally—is one of the tools that we are offering as part of that program,” an Airbnb spokesperson shared.

Even as stay-at-home orders are lifted and businesses slowly reopen, brands must be aware that day-to-day life for most consumers is still not “normal.” The consumer trends and fears that have emerged from the pandemic are likely long-lasting, and marketing strategies must conform as a result. Brands like Burger King, Busch and Airbnb proved that businesses don’t need to change their brand identities altogether, but rather identify innovative, fun ways to market and differentiate their products and services to fit into their audiences’ new ways of living this summer and beyond. 

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About the Author

Carolyn Harding

Carolyn Harding is an Associate Manager of Communications at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest-growing independent digital performance marketing company. DMS helps its clients accelerate growth by deploying diversified and data-driven customer acquisition solutions that deliver scalable, sustainable and measurable marketing results. DMS performance marketing solutions connect the right consumers with the right offers at the right time to achieve the marketing objectives of our clients. DMS is continually innovating to provide new and emerging media and technology solutions that minimize waste and maximize results across the most competitive industries. Since its inception, DMS has demonstrated incredible year-over-year growth which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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