10 Ways Brands Are Getting Creative With Their Ads as Quarantine Stalls Production

From Burger King and Nike to Panera and Potbelly, marketers are finding clever ways to create content

A photo of a person washing their hands in a sink with the McDonald's logo
The Russian ad for McDonald's was created by Leo Burnett Moscow.
McDonald's Russia

There is no doubt that we are living in historic times. And brands, in common with all businesses, have found themselves scrambling to adapt to the newfound reality we all suddenly find ourselves in.

Today, the idea of spending months developing and shooting an advert feels like a pipe dream from another era. But that hasn’t stopped major brands from rising to the challenge with nimble, creative workarounds that pack a big punch.

From ads made from recycled material and b-roll, to those created entirely on Zoom, we’ve rounded up the best from the lockdown so far.

Burger King: ‘Stay Home of the Whopper’
Agency: FCB

This TV spot, which tells people to stay home and order delivery, was created by agency network FCB using footage that was actually shot before the COVID-19 pandemic for an unrelated ad concept. In the spirit of creative re-use, the agency team realized the footage could still work for a campaign specific to the quarantine era.

Burger King has launched a number of timely global initiatives during the pandemic, including the build-it-yourself “Quarantine Whopper” from Paris agency Buzzman for Burger King France. While outlets there have been closed, the brand showed consumers how to make their own Whoppers and other popular Burger King sandwiches at home using store-bought ingredients—a trend that many other brands would soon follow by releasing their signature recipes to the public.

The brand also rolled out a social media campaign doling out free Whoppers to students who can answer tricky math, science and literature questions.

Nike: ‘You Can’t Stop Us’
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland

This 60-second spot by Wieden + Kennedy Portland was compiled using still and video footage of people exercising at their own homes during lockdown.

While it featured megastar LeBron James, as well as Nike-backed talents like Somali boxer Ramla Ali and beach volleyball star Sara Hughes, this ad focused on everyday people doing their best to stay fit indoors.

“To those playing in living rooms. To those playing in kitchens. To those playing in bedrooms,” the ad reads. “We may not be playing to giant crowds, but today we’re playing for 7.8 billion people.”

Apple: ‘Creativity Goes On’
Agency: TBWA\Media Arts Lab

With an initial rough cut assembled over a weekend and the entire production process completed in a whirlwind two weeks, Apple’s “Creativity Goes On” captured a fascinating cross-section of what creativity looks like in this moment of global quarantine.

The spot uses only “found footage” created by everyday users of Apple products and celebrities alike, but the uplifting tone of the spot avoids putting undue emphasis on the brand. Instead, it celebrates how innovation can thrive in the face of isolation.

Potbelly: ‘Potbelly Lunch Break’
Agency: In-house

Imagine: you’re the marketer of a food brand that generates 75% of its money from people making purchases in store–and now people can’t come to your restaurants because of a pandemic. That’s the reality sandwich chain Potbelly was managing day to day when the marketing dreamed up a simple and fun idea to keep the ida of the lunch break alive.

Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Potbelly had been launching a new positioning as the place to go for a lunch break with friends or colleagues.

With most of its 500 stores open for delivery and takeout, Potbelly created a charming, no-frills social video showing brand creative director Hassan Ali “delivering” lunch to others on the marketing team (including CMO Brandon Rhoten) by appearing to chuck sandwiches through the screen to each colleague on a Zoom call.

Domino’s: ‘We’re Hiring’
Agency: CPB

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