Burger King's Halloween Ads Show Creepy Abandoned Wendy's and McDonald's

Haunted by their lack of flame-grilling in a past life

Burger King is a big fan of trolling its rivals on Halloween. Who could forget Scary Clown Night, or the time BK dressed up as McDonald's in Queens?

This year, BK and agency MullenLowe are pulling another trick on their fast-food brethren with a campaign called "Scary Places." It's centered around five abandoned fast-food restaurants in the U.S. that are being featured in ads. The chains are not named, but in the ads below, it's clear they are old McDonald's and Wendy's locations.

Copy on the first ad reads, "Beware of places that never flame-grilled." The second ad reads, "Legend has it, they never flame-grilled." 

Click the thumbnails here to see larger versions:

"Why are these places so scary? When they were open, they did not deliver the beloved flame-grilled taste," BK says. "On some nights you can even hear the sizzling screams of the flat top. What could be scarier than that?"

The campaign goes beyond ads to include a location-based couponing feature involving the BK app. BK will use push notifications to the BK App, as well as social media and this landing page, to direct people to the five actual abandoned restaurants—then, using geolocation, will reward folks who drive by them with a coupon for a free Whopper.

The abandoned restaurants are located in Houston, Texas,; Dayton, Ohio, Birmingham, Alabama; McHenry, Illinois, and Johnston, Rhode Island.

"To us, nothing is scarier than a place that never flame-grilled," said Ellie Doty, chief marketing officer of Burger King North America. "While Halloween looks a bit different this year, we're embracing it in a way that keeps guests' safety top of mind in current times. A good scare and a delicious reward of a flame-grilled Whopper."

The ads will appear in local papers including the Chicago Tribune, Northwest Herald, Providence Journal, Dayton Daily News, Birmingham News and Houston Chronicle.


Burger King – Scary Places

Client: Burger King  

Agency: MullenLowe US
Executive Creative Director: Tim Vaccarino
Executive Creative Director: Dave Weist
SVP, Creative Director: Enrique Camacho
Associate Creative Director: Cody Dummer
Art Director: Helen Reiger
SVP, Executive Director of Integrated Production: Lisa Setten
Executive Producer: Brian Smith 
Director of Print Production: Aidan Finnan
Senior Art Producer: Ingrid Adamow
Senior Digital Producer: Chris Badders
Sr. Motion Designer: Jeremiah True
Motion Designer: Jennifer McMahon
Content Producer: Maurice Loach
Sr. Editor: Ethan Goldhammer
Animator: Andrew Lee
VP, Associate Studio Director: Mark Danish
Sr. Layout Artist: Nick Minieri 
Layout Artist: Erinn Scammon
SVP, Group Strategy Director: Mike Cassell
Brand Strategist: Adriana Solache Olijve
Community Manager: Morgan Playle
Director of Business Affairs: Kim Burns
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Amy Keddy
Project Management Supervisor: Nicole Capone 
Account Director: Alison Whisenant
Account Executive: Gil Carrigan

Retouching Artist: Diego Speroni
Agent: Freddy Fabris 

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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