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Since last year’s premiere of the film, Joker, residents in the Bronx have been bombarded by tourists snapping photos at the NYC borough’s Shakespeare Avenue stairs (which the supervillain famously descends as he descends into madness). In response, Burger King unveiled its King Stairs campaign: offering locals living anywhere in the Bronx a free Whopper via Uber Eats. The reasoning? The fast food chain “knows clowns can be annoying”, alluding, of course, to Ronald McDonald. The promotion debuted this month, in time for the film’s DVD release. 

Whether your customers are victim to the latest cultural phenomenon or not, here’s how you can follow in BK’s steps:

Localizing = empathizing. To make your brand’s stab at localization truly memorable for those who matter (the locals!), don’t settle for surface level tweaks to a tagline or billboard. Instead, keep an empathetic, eagle eye on local news. When you identify a relevant local issue, challenge your team to understand how your customers are impacted. Burger King proves no brand is too big to pinpoint a very specific phenomenon, consider how it affects a particular group and rapidly roll out a solution. Beyond pop culture, brands can do this during serious circumstances, too: &Pizza fed Washington D.C.’s government employees during the federal shutdown. How can you infuse your localization strategy with tangible empathy?

ON to OFF. Viral, online phenomenons are less and less likely to stay online, often spilling into the real world in surprising ways: The tourist mobs impeding Shakespeare Avenue’s foot traffic, Canada’s Pokemon Go-ers roaming restricted military bases, etc. So keep abreast of the online cultural zeitgeist and opportunities for your brand to translate it into an offline, relevant offering for your customers. If a relevant internet craze hasn’t already had an IRL effect, could your brand spearhead a complementary offline component? This isn’t just about trying the latest TikTok challenge to be ‘down with the kids’. The best of these crossovers will deliver clear value for your customer. See how the W Hotel turned the mukbang video phenomenon into a room service experience for guests.

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