Marketers “need to act” and help consumers solve fundamental problems during the COVID-19 crisis, according to Fernando Machado, global CMO of Burger King.

Speaking on a webinar held by Business Insider, Machado pointed back to the typical mode of strategic thinking prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in highlighting the necessary shift in approach.

“We literally would lean into insights and ideas that made sense for each of the brands and ask, ‘Does this tie well to the brand positioning?’” he said.

“Now, we just need to help. That’s the first shift in terms of the creation of assets and an approach to advertising.” (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Burger King’s human-focused, digitally-led marketing response to COVID-19.)

The “need to act,” Machado continued, means embracing new rules: no longer does a brand advertise to reflect a strategy that defines what a product or service stands for.

Instead, the “extraordinary situation” resulting from the spread of the coronavirus means that advertising has to support people, not only champion products.

In this environment, Burger King stepped up to support American families by offering two free kids’ meals for customers who ordered an adult meal for drive-thru or pick-up via its mobile app.

“We knew that lots of families in the US would struggle to feed the kids, because children eat at school. So, we launched the program … And it was a massive success, with incidental but gratifying earned-media exposure,” said Machado.

Burger King dived into comparable consumer-assistance programs in Belgium, Chile, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. “Whether the country is big or small, our entire team leans into healthy,” said Machado.

Two additional cases in point come from Burger King’s sister brands in a portfolio owned by Restaurant Brands International (RBI).

Tim Hortons has a legacy of community engagement in Canada, and “we’re investing in supporting those who are supporting the community”, Machado said.

Popeyes’ partnership with “No Kid Hungry”, a non-profit, also took on new energy and emotion as part of the QSR’s pandemic marketing mix that also informed families that its restaurants were open for business.

Sourced from WARC