- McDonald's partnered with the Joe Biden administration to help raise awareness for COVID-19 vaccines, according to a news release .
- Later this month, the restaurant chain will work with trusted third parties to share information on vaccines through its Times Square billboards. Beginning in July, McCafé cups and delivery order seal stickers will direct customers to vaccines.gov.
- Ads and packaging supporting the effort will feature art from the national "We Can Do This" campaign that kicked off with a heavy TV play in April. McDonald's is pushing for a return to normal that can be realized through collaboration between the government, corporate sector and community and health organizations at a time when its internal practices are under heavier scrutiny.
McDonald's is deploying its considerable marketing muscle to speed up the Biden administration's efforts to vaccinate consumers from the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than half a million people in the U.S. The partnership will rework brand assets, including McDonald's billboards in high-traffic areas, hot coffee cups and delivery order packaging, to point customers toward information resources on COVID-19 vaccines, with the goal of convincing more people to get a jab.
"Ending this pandemic requires all of us working together to do our part, including encouraging our friends and family to get vaccinated," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a press statement about the partnership. "This effort will help more people make informed decisions about their health and learn about steps they can take to protect themselves and their communities."
The rate of vaccinations in the U.S. has slowed in recent weeks, with supply outstripping demand and some states turning down new doses. Roughly one-quarter of adults are hesitant to get the vaccine , according to polls. Those figures pose challenges to reaching herd immunity, health experts say. Trusted brands with national scale — McDonald's claims to serve 14,000 communities — could help to close the gap. Some industry trackers, like Edelman's Trust Barometer, indicate that many consumers put more faith in businesses than the government to solve problems.
Several blue-chip consumer brands have redirected their media spending to champion COVID-19 vaccines. Budweiser skipped the Super Bowl for the first time in 37 years to instead put its big game investments toward vaccine awareness. More recently, the brewing giant has offered free beer to people who show proof of getting vaccinated.
Other marketers are offering similar incentives while focusing less on paid media. Unilever, the packaged goods giant that owns Good Humor and Ben & Jerry's, will send ice cream trucks to vaccination sites starting Friday to supply newly vaccinated people, vaccine site workers and volunteers with free treats. The company is also pushing followers to get vaccinated as part of the Day of Service and to share their acts of service on social media for the chance to win free ice cream. Unilever will donate over $25 million in goods and services toward pandemic relief, according to an announcement.
McDonald's has enacted some COVID-19 relief measures outside of its work with the government. Starting in January, managers and crew at corporate-owned U.S. restaurants and U.S. corporate employees received four hours paid time to get their shots. About 7% of McDonald's franchises around the globe are corporate-owned, per information on its website.
The burger chain is also contending with other pressures related to the pandemic. On May 19, McDonald's cashiers and cooks in 15 cities around the U.S. are planning to strike in a push to raise wages to $15 an hour, Vice reported. Restaurants are broadly contending with labor shortages as workers weigh the risks of entering a line of work that has seen a steep mortality rate related to COVID-19.