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Blurring the rules of creativity: Burger King, Wendy's, Patagonia, Haus, Old Milwaukee


By Dani Gibson, Senior Writer

August 6, 2019 | 10 min read

Imagine the possibilities in bending and breaking the rules of advertising. Allowing your imagination to run wild and coming out with amazing creative that people will remember decades later is the stuff of advertisers' dreams.

Burger King burn ads

Blurring the rules of creativity: Burger King, Wendy's, Patagonia, HAUS, Old Milwaukee

By celebrating the sort of work you won’t see anywhere else, The Chip Shop Awards US is the platform where creatives can freely think outside the box.

Ahead of the inaugural awards show this September, The Drum spoke to the judging panel on the campaigns that they believe are helping to push the boundaries of creativity and advertising.

Burger King

Over the past few years, Burger King has built a reputation for being provocative and producing fearless social commentary. The fast food brand has mastered the art of grabbing people’s attention through creativity.

Back in 2014, Burger King sold the Proud Whopper at a single San Francisco restaurant, during the city’s Gay Pride Parade. The Proud Whopper was wrapped in Pride flag livery that unfolded to reveal the message, ‘We are all the same inside’.

“Like all great ideas, it builds on universal truth and is executed with an elegant simplicity that combines location, timing, and message to maximum effect”, explains Mark Fallows, founder of creative digital agency, Fabrica Collective.

The Proud Whopper generated over one billion media impressions, worth $21m of earned media, seven million video views, 450,000 blog mentions, and became the number one trending topic on Facebook and Twitter.

“Rather than just aligning to show support for the LGBTQ+ community, the Proud Whopper delivered a powerful statement to confront homophobia,” he adds. “It demonstrated a cultural consciousness and fluency at a time when many brands were still sitting on the fence."

More recently, Burger King and David SP developed an app in Brazil which allowed users to burn the ads of their rivals, engulfing billboards in flames. Once the flames burned out, the consumer was left with a screen telling them they would receive a free Whopper at the nearest restaurant.

“There were so many reasons to say no to this from a client’s perspective,” says Reuben Webb, chief creative officer at Stein IAS. “But they went ahead and made advertising history and a lot of customers happy with a free Whopper.”

“I like the fact that it had the key difference of flame grilling at the heart of the idea but took that to another level that made it newsworthy and a lot of fun,” he adds. “It must be brilliant to work with a brand that pushes creativity so far and what I like about The Chip Shop Awards is you get the chance to put ideas of that caliber in your portfolio and win an award for it.

“Not everyone will get to work for the Burger King brand, but if you think you can rival the ideas they have, now is your chance to prove it.”


“We are currently living through a unique time in the industry, where ‘brand purpose’ and ‘cause marketing’ is more important than ever,” insists Sandi Harari, executive vice president, creative director, of indie agency Barker.

“As humans begin to face the fact that the world is in trouble, this purpose has shifted towards environmentally-focused messaging promoting sustainability in a number of new, unique and creative ways.”

In 2016, the outdoor clothing company Patagonia joined up with environmental initiative One Percent for the planet for Black Friday. They agreed to donate all of their retail and online sales to organiaations dedicated to clean water, air and soil, with Patagonia taking in $10m on the day.

The campaign was led by the hashtag #loveourplanet and tapped into a consumer's conscience by allowing them to enjoy the excitement of making a purchase with the knowledge that it would aid in making the world a better place.

“Only a brand truly committed to sustainability and purposeful consumption could tell consumers not to buy its products and have it pay off. To me, that is truly rule-breaking, meaningful creativity,” explains Harari.


Since its launch in 2017, Fortnite has become a real gaming phenomenon.

"eSports are changing the world rapidly," expresses EJ McNulty, executive creative director at Wunderman Thompson Minneapolis.

"We as an industry are far behind when it comes to knowing how to bring brands into this new field in an authentic way. Try to pay your way in and both game developers and the eSports audience will roast you for it. That’s why VMLY&R’s 'Keeping Fortnite Fresh' campaign was so brilliant."

To gain access to the gamer world, Wendy's and VMLY&R took an in-game storyline Burgers vs. Pizza where they could uniquely highlight the burger chain's never-frozen standards. It saw the effort as an organic way to insert Wendy’s into the game’s story and meet its audience in its world.

"I’m often asked what the criteria of great creative is. Great creative answers yes to a lot of important questions: Is it authentic? Does it invite participation? Is it beyond the transaction? Does it have a shared purpose with the audience? Is it timely? Is it simple? Is it flawless in its execution? This campaign checks all the boxes for me, but also checks the biggest one – is it something I’ve never seen before?

"This campaign will be in every briefing as a reference on how to engage the eSports community going forward."

New York Public Library

Taking things a bit more local is Josh Horowitz founder and chief executive officer of experiential agency, Fake Love.

"A recent example that stands out to me is a campaign for the New York Public Library. I love how they took a temporal platform usually populated with cats, babies, and selfie filters and created something meaningful and long-lasting."

To encourage a love of literature in this digital age, The New York Public Library delivered entire novels like A Christmas Carol and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Instagram. The books were uploaded to NYPL's Instagram stories to then be saved as highlights so users could read them at any time.

"The concept itself seems almost comical," adds Horowitz. "But because of the creativity driving the idea, the campaign was not only pulled off, but wildly successful (it grew the brand's Instagram following by 75%). By taking the existing Stories platform on Instagram and turning it into a useful digital bookshelf, Mother New York reimagined some of the greatest works in literature in an unusual yet boundary pushing manner."

He continues: "This is a type of innovation that meets an audience where they already are and turns the way they engage into something new and meaningful. And that, I think, is the core of what beautiful innovation can do. Drive meaning and purpose in our everyday lives."


When thinking about great advertising, Valerie Carlson, executive creative director of Wunderman Thompson Los Angeles, no longer thinks about ads or stunts or digital media. Instead, it's about the platforms that answer on human needs in unique ways.

"I’m looking for delight. I’m looking for simplicity, beauty and quality. Rarely do I find these qualities in the consumer packaged goods space, but I recently encountered Haus, a new spirits brand that just launched direct to consumer."


Haus taps into the human need that everywhere you go there are drinks made with sketchy ingredients and high hangover potential. Haus is an alternative that’s all-natural with less alcohol.

"The brand is beautiful; from the logo to the bottle to the photography, it strikes the right balance between 'millennial Instagram brand' and the return to the 70s vibe that’s coming on the heels of our current 90s redux."

Old Milwaukee

Will Ferrell's series of local Old Milwaukee ads, shot and aired only in Davenport, Iowa, Terre Haute and Milwaukee was one of the more quirky campaigns of the early 2010s.

This 30-second spot featured Ferrell walking through a field for 29 seconds. Once front and center, he grabs an ice-cold can of Old Milwaukee and cracks it open. Just as he opens his mouth to say something, the spot ends. Like some of their previous ad spots, this takes the piss out old advertising tropes.

"It was hilarious and completely unexpected," says Roberto Danino, creative director, BBDO NY.

"Having a major celebrity in your spot and ending it right as he is about to say something was a brilliant move, and the spot ended up getting ton of buzz because of that."

The Chip Shop Awards are open to anyone. They can include fresh talent looking to break through or more established talent who don’t normally get the chance to work on the sexy stuff. The deadline is fast approaching so make sure you enter before August 30.

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