Burger King links TV ad with QR code to offer up free Whoppers

Linda J. Dodson

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  • Burger King in the past week launched two offers for people who are stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic. One offer urges mobile users to scan a QR code that appears in TV commercials, while another asks them to share screenshots of video calls with friends, per separate tweets.
  • The “QR Whopper” giveaway consists of three TV commercials showing a scannable code floating around the TV screen. Scanning the code with a smartphone brings users to a web page offering coupons for a free Whopper with a purchase through its BK App. The burger chain is giving away 10,000 Whoppers during the promotion period that ends on April 30, per the contest rules.
  • In addition, Burger King’s “3 for $3 Challenge” asks customers to post a screenshot of a video call with at least two friends for a chance to win one of 50 electronic gift cards that cover the cost of its “3 for $3” menu. To enter, customers can post the photo on Twitter or Instagram and use the #BK3forFreeChallenge hashtag before April 28, per the rules.


Burger King’s latest promotions are geared toward homebound customers who are either watching more TV or using video chat services like Zoom to stay connected with friends during the coronavirus pandemic. The QR code promotion is notable for providing a gamified experience for mobile users, urging them to interact with the brand and purchase meals via its mobile app.

By showing the scannable bar codes in TV commercials, Burger King can track which spots triggered the greatest response, helping it to hone its media spending for future TV campaigns.


Both promotions aim to boost adoption of the BK App that has become more vital for Burger King in staying connected with customers in areas where lockdowns prevent them from dining in restaurants. Burger King’s mobile app and website offer takeout service and free “minimum contact delivery” through DoorDash or Postmates on orders of $20 or more, according to its website. Until the burger chain is permitted to open dining rooms that allow for social distancing, Burger King’s takeout, curbside pickup, drive-thru and delivery services will be a key part of its operations and promotional activities.

The latest promotions follow recent efforts aimed at driving boosting usage of its BK App. The fast-food chain this month offered free Whoppers to students who answered questions about school subjects to unlock promotional codes. The promotion coincided with its “Stay Home of the Whopper” campaign that launched earlier this month to urge people to stay indoors during the pandemic and to use its BK App for mobile orders.

Burger King is among the restaurant brands that are incorporating QR codes into their promotions to engage mobile users. Chick-fil-A last year boosted downloads of its mobile app by 14% by showing a QR code in its digital signage that pointed to an app store. Steakhouse chain Blackrock Bar & Grill saw a 27% redemption rate for a scannable mobile coupon shown on restaurant TVs for a pilot program last year, per information shared with Mobile Marketer.

QR codes initially had seen a jump in usage with the introduction of better smartphone camera technology, but that interest faded among marketers because of a lack of scanning standardization and some of the creative restrictions that come with the format. However, the QR codes have shown signs of renewed interest, with NBCUniversal introducing Shoppable TV commercials with scannable QR codes that point to e-commerce sites, while Pepsi embedded QR codes in its packaging for a digital scratch-off game.

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