How McDonald’s fooled a nation with ‘Three Fries’ and drove app downloads


McDonald’s and Ready10 won in the PR category at the 2022 Drum Awards for Marketing. Here, we find out more about what made their project a success…

The brief

In January 2021, McDonald’s came to Ready10 with a challenge: how could it incorporate product offerings at culturally relevant calendar times to drive usage and downloads of its app? Its main goals were to increase engagement and conversation across all its major social channels and to generate bid claims.

The idea

Ready10 has identified themes around what it calls brand truths. Most customers have things they love about McDonald’s and the experiences they get from the brand all differ, whether it’s dipping fries in a milkshake or their favorite form of Chicken McNugget.

The agency has developed a strategy based on the idea that when we order fries at McDonald’s, we all have “that pal” who likes to steal a few. Ready10 knew this would be relevant for customers and so wanted to create an idea to end this predicament.

The strategy was to create a relatable, shareable and engaging idea, communicate clearly and tie the idea to an offer available exclusively through the My McDonald’s app, and drive people to the app to take advantage of the offer.

McDonald’s promoted a new French fries box that only held three individual fries and which customers could give to a diner companion to prevent theirs from being stolen. “Available” until April 1 at noon exclusively through the My McDonald’s app, “Three Fries” could be ordered for free alongside an order of McDonald’s Fries.

After fooling many people with a “new product launch” announcement that morning, Ready10 had to do something to soften the blow. At 12:01 p.m., he announced a deal — 50% off medium fries for the rest of the day, available exclusively for orders on the My McDonald’s app.

Ready10 designed, developed and printed the “Three Fries” packaging and secured a photographer and model for a Covid-compliant photoshoot. In addition, he captured lifestyle product images to communicate the product to consumers and sent orders for “Three Fries” to the media on the morning of April 1.

The results

There was no paid media support for the idea or the deal. The organic social impact, coupled with PR results, generated tens of thousands of redemptions of the offer within the first four hours of its announcement.

The April Fool’s Day idea generated more than 3 million organic impressions on McDonald’s social media, including generating the highest organic reach on Facebook this year. The content also achieved an average engagement rate of 13%, the highest rate the brand has ever seen – a significant rate considering the sheer size of its social audience.

The media coverage gained revolved around two key moments; the product ‘launch’ and associated reveal of the deal, with a three-country pick-up and regional coverage.

This campaign won the 2022 Drum Awards for Marketing. You can see all the winners here.

And find out which of the Drum Awards are currently open for entries.

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