McGarrah Jessee gives back some love for 2020

Kevin Dunleavy unveils – pun intended – his fave 'WhatASuccess' of the year

December 16, 2020


Kevin Dunleavy is a Creative Director at McGarrah Jessee in Austin, Texas 


We asked our Advertising Awards jurors for feedback after completing their task a few weeks ago. Firstly, on the awards entries themselves. Secondly, to share their own top pick of projects for 2020.

Kevin's response to the former? "Really enjoyed going through Canada’s finest. Saw a lot of strong work. The only negative? I didn’t get to travel to Canada for in-person judging, ha. Love visiting whenever possible."

Obviously an upbeat guy, and given the overall disruption to families and life in general that was 2020, Kevin's pick for personal favourite project comes as no surprise. 

Texas-based agency McGarrah Jessee, affectionately known as McJ, was asked by client Whataburger, a very a popular regional hamburger chain in the south, to help give back some love to loyal patrons for Valentine's Day 2020. They could not possibly have known that only one month later, normal life would come to a halt due to COVID-19, and wedding plans everywhere would be disrupted, which made McJ's solution a true 'moment' of 2020 ... or, more accurately, hundreds of moments. 

If you're not familiar with Whataburger, here's what you need to know to fully appreciate what made this Kevin's top pick amidst the doldrums of 2020. In just over 70 years, Whataburger has gone from a small hamburger stand in Corpus Christi, Texas to a cult icon with over 800 restaurants in 10 states – and counting. There’s a reason why so many people get Whataburger tattoos, make Whataburger themed art, and more. So after all this time of fans showing their love for Whataburger, the brand wanted to give them something big in return. On Valentine’s Day 2020, McJ helped give hundreds of Whataburger’s most loyal fans a free dream wedding in a dream location: their hometown Whataburger.

No, seriously, hundreds of free weddings! Take a look:




Besides loads of fun and happy-er fans, what was the takeaway for Whataburger?

  • Almost 4,000 wedding submissions in a little over a week
  • 67,000 guests attended via YouTube livestream
  • 33X increase in YouTube channel subscribers on V-Day

Take that to the burger bank, y'all!


More on Kevin Dunleavy:

Kevin made it out alive from the VCU Brandcenter in 2006. Since then, he spent a long while at the Martin Agency in Richmond, a short while at mono in Minneapolis, a medium while at McGarrah Jessee in Austin, a little while down the street at GSD&M, ultimately returning to McGarrah Jessee. In all that time, he’s been lucky to work with smart people on accounts like GEICO, UPS, Whataburger, Lyft, Shiner Beers, Petsmart, and more – and win an award or three in the process. Kevin believes it’s important to work hard and have a laugh, to be honest in everything, and that somewhere in America, at any given point in time, a Peter Frampton song is playing on the radio.