The Really Brief — Week of March 30

March 30

Brands have been mostly quiet and respectful as the world grapples with the COVID crisis, but we’re beginning to see some attempt to introduce a little levity to a less-than-ideal situation.

Among the fun efforts is a Twitter post from Burger King France, which on Monday introduced what it’s calling the Quarantine Whopper. The accompanying picture shows the component ingredients of the chain’s most famous burger (buns, pickles, Heinz Ketchup, etc.). It doesn’t provide instructions on how to prepare it, but we’re assuming that given the constraints of being confined at home, frying is as good as flame grilling.

The work is from French agency Buzzman, which also produced similar pictorial ads for the chain’s Big King, Big Fish and Steakhouse sandwiches. All Burger King stores in the country are currently closed in an attempt to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

Among the other brands slowly rolling out new creative acknowledging the COVID crisis is Jack Daniels, which has a new ad from Energy BBDO that artfully captures some of the poignant reality of these extraordinary times.

The ad uses user-generated online video to present some of the small ways people have adapted to the extraordinary reality of social distancing. It opens with a young man singing a version of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colours” to a young woman over video chat.

The song continues throughout the 60-second montage of people enjoying social moments—at a safe distance of course—with a few shots of people sharing a drink and, by our count, just one product placement of a Jack Daniels bottle. “Dear humanity, cheers to making social distancing, social,” reads the closing super.

Toronto agency Juliet is helping some the city’s “essential” non-essential businesses on its social channels by pre-paying for drinks and food at various establishments near its east-end Toronto office.

In the first two days of the initiative, Juliet has opened a $1,000 tab at The Burren Pub and pre-paid for 20 “Mama’s Homemade Pierogis” lunches at Hastings Snack Bar.

“We’re trying to do what we do best right now—help businesses thrive. Help them find their way back from this,” says Juliet co-founder and chief creative officer, Ryan Spelliscy. “The businesses in our immediate community, like pretty much all businesses right now, need help, especially some of the smaller ones. The diners. The pubs. The little bookshops.

“So, we’re going to talk about them on our social channels, to make donations to them, to shine a light on them as much as we can. We’ve always strived to be the kind of place that the community would miss if we were gone. So this is a no-brainer to us right now. We’re going to war for them.”

Kimberly-Clark Canada, the maker of Cottonelle and Kleenex, has partnered with United Way Centraide Canada to help its COVID relief efforts. The company has announced a donation of $100,000 and is making 100,000 rolls of Cottonelle and 10,000 boxes of Kleenex available through United Way Centraide locations across the country.

The company has also launched an online initiative called #ShareASquareCanada that will see it donate $1 to a maximum of $50,000 for every time the hashtag is used on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter through June 1.

“We are seeing the real-time impact this virus is having on product availability, and while our teams are working tirelessly to produce and ship product to retailers, we want to invite consumers to #ShareASquareCanada to help others in need,” said Therese Brisson, director of marketing and sales strategy at Kimberly-Clark Canada. “Instead of stockpiling toilet paper and facial tissue products, let’s stock up on generosity, now and for the road ahead. We believe our consumers have no shortage of kindness and trust they will #ShareASquareCanada and help us on this community mission.”

A new global website called is tracking the actions of companies, celebrities and sports teams/athletes during the COVID crisis. and posting them in a searchable database.

The site awards one point for each positive action or good deed taken during the crisis, such as donating money or producing equipment for front-line staff, while subtracting one point for each negative action or deed, such as grossly overcharging for in-demand items. There are currently 27 pages dedicated to “Heroes” and only six dedicated to “Zeroes.”

Several Canadian companies have achieved positive rankings, including Canada Goose (lauded for retooling its factories to manufacture medical supplies); Metro (which announced an increase in hourly wages for front-line employees, though so did Loblaw and Sobeys) and Ontario Power Generation, which is donating more than half a million masks.

Field Agent Canada has conducted a survey of 1,211 Canadians using its mobile research platform in order to determine their key concerns around COVID.

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents are concerned about family members getting infected, while 67% worry about the impact it will have on their employment.

Other concerns include not knowing when it will be contained (64%), the impact on the economy (55%), health services not being available (55%), shortages of essential items (49%) and the risk of recession (46%).



Chris Powell