McDonald's and Snapchat partnered on the video messaging platform's first sponsored Bitmoji, the cartoon avatars that users create in the Bitmoji app, according to Adweek. The effort is tied to a holiday promotion for the fast-food chain's McCafé coffee, and uses augmented reality to let McDonald's fans have their 3-D bitmoji run around a steaming digital cup of the beverage before grabbing it and lumbering off-screen.
We Are Unlimited, the agency that runs McDonald's social, digital, retail and data marketing in the U.S., created the bitmoji promotion along with Resolution Media and OMD, per Adweek. McDonald's is seeking to do more holiday promotions than in the past, We Are Unlimited Chief Creative Officer Toygar Bazarkaya told the publication.
We Are Unlimited created the Bitmoji alongside Snapchat employees who worked temporarily at its office. The cost of the campaign wasn't disclosed.
The McCafé promotion marks the first time Snapchat has sold a sponsored Bitmoji, opening up another possible revenue stream for the app as it struggles with sluggish user growth and revenue. Snapchat bought Bitmoji creator Bitstrips for more than $100 million in 2016 but hadn't monetized the app with specialized promotions. Bitmojis mostly have been deployed as fun characters to dress up shared images on Snapchat.
Big-name marketers showing interest in sponsored Bitmojis underscores that there's still a clear interest in Snapchat despite the considerable headwinds its parent company Snap Inc. is facing, including pressure from Facebook's similar feature, Instagram Stories. Snapchat is in the middle of a major redesign that splits users' posts from that of professional publishers and influencers as a bid to differentiate itself from the competition. Offerings like branded Bitmojis are another way it might be able to accomplish those goals and carve out a distinct value proposition for marketers.
For McDonald's, the campaign is another clear signal that the company is focusing on mobile to reach the types of young consumers that have slowly strayed away from its brand, often in favor of healthier alternatives. The company has this year significantly expanded a delivery service with UberEats. It's previously announced plans for a revamp of its mobile app and a greater focus on mobile ordering to spur growth going forward.
Bitmojis are just one way that brands can test out AR as a way to engage consumers on their smartphones. The integration of 3-D Bitmojis have increased the use of world lenses by 20%, Snap said in its most recent quarterly earnings results. The company in September also introduced 3-D AR World Lenses for advertisers.
With Apple's ARKit and Google's ARCore software tools for app developers attracting a lot of attention, AR technology is gradually finding its way into the mainstream, meaning Snap must continue to innovate to keep its foothold in the space.