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McDonald's beefs up advertising strategy with mobile game

Fast food giant McDonald?s is using a mobile ad campaign to entice users to try the company?s dollar menu items by playing a word scramble game. 

In addition to learning about the dollar menu items, users can also find the nearest McDonald?s location via the ads. The mobile ads are running within the TV Guide iPhone application.

?The use of gamification inside a mobile ad campaign is all about finding and maintaining engagement,? said James MacDonald, New York-based general manager of the United States at Adfonic.

?For quick-serve restaurants, we have seen a lot of activity in mobile on a regional and targeted basis,? he said.

Mr. MacDonald is not affiliated with McDonald?s. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

McDonald?s did not respond to press enquiries.

Mobile school
The ad campaign is based on the idea of educating users on the dollar menu items by testing them on the products with a group of mobile games.

The creative scrolls across the banner ads and reads, ?You make smart choices every day. Like thinking before you speak and buying the McDouble. Show off your smarts at McDonald?s.?

The ad then encourages users to tap to test their McDonald?s knowledge.

When users tap on the mobile ad, they are encouraged to play the ?Value vocab 101? game.

Consumers must then unscramble words by dragging their fingers across the screen. Each word is associated with an item off of the McDonald?s dollar menu. For example, one word spells out the word tasty value.

Users are tested on their time, which adds a time-sensitive and interactive element that consumers are more likely to interact with.

After unscrambling a word, users can share their score on Facebook, which helps McDonald?s spread the word about the promotion.

Users can also browse the dollar menu to see all of the different items with a picture and description.

The mobile ads also include a store locator to help users find the nearest McDonald?s restaurant by either typing in their ZIP code or using their device?s GPS. A mobile landing page then appears as a map that shows all nearby locations.

Mobile value
McDonald?s has been aggressive with its mobile advertising strategy by making rich and interactive elements, such as gaming, a staple of its campaigns.

For example, last year the fast food restaurant ran a mobile ad campaign with a game element to promote its breakfast items (see story). 

By using a mobile game, it entices users to tap on a banner ad. Additionally, consumers are likely to remember the McDonald?s brand after interacting with the ad.

?A mobile game is all about getting an audience to not only engage with the ad, but also to hold them in it for a while with a more meaningful message,? Mr. Macdonald said.

?The longer that a person is engaged with the experience throughout the game, the more likely they are to have a higher retention and recall of the ad and ultimately make a purchase,? he said.

?The whole quick service restaurant market is one that is very active in understanding that as part of their digital marketing, geo-targeting is measureable with a compelling value.? 

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York