As the largest restaurant chain in the world, McDonald's is no stranger to the effects that digital has had on consumers.

Those who are responsible for using digital to drive people towards those magical Golden Arches have thought of some clever digital marketing campaigns over the past couple of years. These campaigns not only drive footfall to stores, but also help to increase brand loyalty and engagement.

In an age where customers are deserting offline shopping, campaigns that blend the physical and the digital offer an opportunity to connect with digitally-savvy consumers.

We've put together ten examples from across the world where this brand has succeeded. Read below for more...

McDonald's Extended Restaurant Hours

As detailed in this post on location-based mobile campaigns, McDonald's won numerous awards for this particular example to promote new late night opening hours. 

A third of McDonald’s outlets had their hours extended at the beginning of the year so needed to raise awareness and drive footfall.

With a majority of its late night customers being shift workers and travellers, it targeted them with ads at cash points and petrol stations encouraging them to download a new Restaurant Finder app.

McDonald’s also bought mobile banner ads to promote the app on websites it knew customers frequented at night. 

The result? Over 500,000 visits and an ROI of over 100%.

The Ask McDonald's YouTube campaign

With many members of the public being concerned about the quality and traceability of their food, McDonald's Canada wanted to make sure that customers were informed.

In order to address this, they offered to answer questions from the public about their food.

Over 20,000 questions were asked, of which each one was answered. They also set up a YouTube channel to showcase video responses to some of the questions.

The Track My Macca's App

Another one that addresses issues of food provenance, this campaign was put together by DDB Group Sydney. 

Using GPS to find out what restaurant you are in, the app then uses image recognition software to figure out what the customer is eating and then provides a real-time supply chain info for the product about to be eaten.

The app was downloaded over 45,000 times while the PR campaign behind it received over 600m impressions worth of global PR coverage.

McDonald's Monopoly goes digital

A regular marketing campaign that began in 1987, customers playing McDonald's Monopoly previously had to peel off stickers and attach them to a paper board in order to win prizes, ranging from big cash prizes and cars, through to free food.

To catch up with the digital age, the latest product allowed customers to add these stickers to a virtual game board from mobile devices, by entering a unique code from each sticker.

Digital Happy Meals Play Zones

As covered in Marketing Week, McDonald's is rolling out 150 interactive Happy Meals Play Zones in the UK to encourage children eating at the restaurant to be more active.

With images and characters being projected onto the floor, it uses tracking cameras and infra-red technology to create an interactive experience.

Such experiences are becoming more common as offline retailers bring digital technologies into offline stores.

McDonald's Iced Fruit Smoothie App

Sales of particular products such as smoothies and ice creams are highly dependent on the weather.

With the temperature rising and companies like Innocent raising the consumption of smoothie products, McDonald's wanted a way to connect with consumers looking for this type of drink.

Of note however is that the tool is not in a new app - rather, it is baked in to the app that consumers have already downloaded, with an update from the App Store changing the content.

By playing the interactive game, consumers win a free smoothie which they can redeem instore.

While this may cost something, the upsell opportunity that comes with driving footfall often results in a higher return on investment.

'Kick the Trash' Campaign

Big brands like McDonald's are always looking for ways to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility.

In response to claims that areas outside of McDonald's were dirty, McDonald's Germany came up with this campaign to encourage children and young people to dispose of litter responsibly.

Angry Birds in McDonald's China

In order to get people inside stores, McDonald's China partnered with Rovio to create an Angry Birds game that could only be played inside stores.

To make it even more interesting, particular content could only be unlocked from specific McDonald's stores, rewarding loyalty and repeat visits.

The app also allows customers to vote for their favourite McDonald's branch in China. The winning restaurant will see a gigantic Golden Arches slingshot attached to the store.

McDonald's Denmark Coinoffers App

When big brands are all doing the same things, it can be difficult to stand out.

McDonald's Denmark created a game where people could scan QR codes to collect virtual currency which they could spend on real world food at McDonald's.

On the first day alone, over 30,000 virtual coins were collected, which equals more than 3,000 cheeseburgers. For a country of only 5.5 million people, this is an impressive result.

McDonald's Free Breakfast Day

Outdoor media is somewhere where digital is also having an impact.

In Singapore, McDonald's partnered with Clear Channel to offer dynamic display advertising to alert consumers to free breakfasts at local stores.

With supplies limited, the ads showed how much stock was remaining, creating an incentive for customers to visit.

What other campaigns have you seen?

Have you seen any other excellent digital campaigns run by McDonald's? Or is there a big-brand campaign that is your favourite?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Andrew Warren-Payne

Published 10 July, 2013 by Andrew Warren-Payne

Andrew Warren-Payne is a former analyst at Econsultancy and is now Managing Director at Market2Marketers. Follow him on Twitter or Google+

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Comments (12)

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Brett Opace

It's ironic that the original 'one size fits all' business is now so diverse. Not too long ago you could walk into one of their restaurants anywhere in the world and they were all the same but McDonalds seem to be learning the lesson of diversity that has been a dominant concept in marketing over the past couple of decades and that digital marketing has engendered.

about 5 years ago

Andrew Warren-Payne

Andrew Warren-Payne, Senior Research Analyst at Econsultancy

Thanks for your comment Brett. I think you've really hit upon a valid point here.

I think big brands like this are using such diverse tactics for two reasons:

1) These brands and their agencies realise that to make sure they stay competitive, they need to explore new ways of connecting with their customers, even if this means taking risks. A lot of recent agile marketing displays this trait.

I've spoken confidentially with a few marketers at large, global brands and they have a solid list of 'fails' where something they thought was really engaging at the time just didn't take off. But these are hidden by the successes that the other ideas have.

The great thing about digital is that it enables a much more rapid experimentation with concepts to see what works and what doesn't.

2) These brands realise that although their global brand gives them power, they have to serve local markets.

This approach has been termed 'Glocal' and I touched on this in a report on the Asia-Pacific region.

I think McDonald's is a great example of a 'glocal' brand and the campaigns shown highlights its strength in this area.

about 5 years ago

Shoplet Promos

Shoplet Promos, Digital Marketing at Shoplet Promos

McDonalds also has so much extra money to experiment with - they can afford to do REALLY creative things, they can afford to fail. It's the luxury of being one of the biggest companies in the world. A giant risk for a normal company is petty cash to McDonalds.

about 5 years ago

Andrew Warren-Payne

Andrew Warren-Payne, Senior Research Analyst at Econsultancy

Thanks Shoplet.

I do agree with you - McDonald's can experiment a lot more financially. But there are two other considerations.

The first is that major brands often have a certain level of inertia in them internally which prevents the kind of agility as seen in smaller companies. There are exceptions, but often internal politics and the need for multiple parties to sign off on content stifles innovation.

The second is that digital technologies allows smaller brands to come to the surface at a lower cost. I still wouldn't say it's easy, but content marketing along with some creative PR can really yield dividends.

about 5 years ago



Andrew, thanks for sharing those great examples.

I believe that a combination of video, interactive content and location awareness app can make a real difference in marketing a retail business. I may not like McDonald that much as a fast food restaurant but do love its digital campaigns.

BTW, the alliance with Angry Birds is great!

about 5 years ago


Gareth Parkin

I am not an avid lover of McDonald's food, however you have to see them as a leading light in terms of the diverse way in which they now market their brand. So many companies large and small have not seen how much the marketing landscape has changed and this has been to their detriment. In the UK their have been so many traditional electrical retailers that have hit the wall because they let the likes of Amazon steel the march with their online offering and now for others to catch them it is pretty much impossible.

I think whether you have a large or small budget we can all learn from the big brands which push the boundries and apply some of their logic to our own campaigns.

about 5 years ago



I love how they don't go into much detail about the blanching process and what kinds of preservatives and other chemicals they put on the fries to maintain the color and consistency. This video was rather vague. They told us the bare minimum about the french fry(ing) process. Do your research people.

about 5 years ago


Piyush Pankaj

This is a great example of how to use integrated approach towards advertising and smart use of digital to increase footfall to the store using various channel of advertising.

about 5 years ago



I think that these are very good collection of digital marketing ideas. These ideas may also be used for promoting products from other industries.

about 5 years ago



Brilliant! A very creative mind can adjust the "principle" of the videos to fit their restaurant clients and help them increase both sales and exposure IF they do it right. Really cool!

almost 5 years ago



great summary. thanks for including kick your trash.

the biggest change for mcd marketing before ask mcd from canada
missing "make your own burger" by razorfish germany.

almost 5 years ago

James Cristal

James Cristal, Marketing Manager at Personal

I also really like their partnership campaign they run with Monopoly. McDonalds is highly innovative in their marketing and one area people don't realise is that they like to partner up with other companies to cross-promote.

If anyone is interested in learning more about how companies like McDonalds partner up for marketing I really recommend this course on Udemy:

8 months ago

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