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Case Study

Burger King: experiential marketing for the next generation

Since it opened its first UK branch in 1974, the fast food brand has grown to be a stalwart of the British fast food scene. So while it’s likely that UK students are no strangers to the Whopper and friends, university is the first time that many are purchasing food independently of their parents. 

The challenge: cut through the noise and win big with students

As one of the early adopters of plant-based alternatives, and with a tongue-in-cheek approach to advertising, Burger King was always well-placed to be a hit with Gen Z. One in five are currently trialling a plant-based diet, and for the other 80%, there are plenty of meat options to pick from! But in a world of legacy fast-food brands and up-and-coming disruptors, competition was stiff. 

Burger King had a recipe for success with students: a new student deal that was worth shouting about, a tantalising product range for students and a great functional app. All that remained was to cook up a campaign to launch it across the UK. Knowing about our experiential expertise, Burger King handed the chef’s hat to crowd by native to deliver the campaign.

The solution: gamification spanning URL and IRL

Fast food has widespread appeal for students – it’s quick and affordable, it’s often nostalgic, and it can hit the spot as a quick meal on-campus or an exciting treat at the end of a hard day. To bring this feeling to life, we devised a gamified activation: “Where’s the Whopper?”. We scaled this campaign strategically across four campuses in prime Burger King territory, with multiple restaurants nearby.

Gen Z students can switch seamlessly between online and IRL – and this campaign emulated this perfectly. In exchange for downloading the Burger King app, students could take part in a physical, oversized game, flipping a playing card to (hopefully) reveal a Whopper on the other side. The lucky winners could head to their nearest Burger King location to pick up the real thing.

If students didn’t win a Whopper, not all was lost – our physical stands distributed thousands of Burger King branded keep cups, as well as iconic Burger King crowns. Together, these free gifts functioned as walking adverts, drawing attention to Burger King on campus and beyond.


The result: a whopping success

UK Gen Zs may already have known the Burger King brand – but this campaign ignited a love for it, with thousands of students getting involved. There was an average of 100 Whopper winners per day, driving increased footfall at nearby Burger King locations.
It wasn’t just the students who came away feeling satisfied. Reflecting on the campaign, Burger King’s Brand Manager said: “crowd by native were exceptional to work with; they planned, managed and executed the student events perfectly in 2022. The team demonstrated a clear understanding of the student market and ways to communicate with them effectively. We’re looking forward to working with them again in future activations to build on the success of 2022.”

Fancy a taste of success? We’re in the business of launching brands to students – online and on-campus. To see what we can do for you, contact native today