McDonald's discussed a Halloween-themed promotional game that capitalized on scannable QR codes and innovated by giving consumers the ability to choose the prizes for which they played.
Objective and Context:
Caught between the post-summer and pre-holiday hustle and bustle, October is typically a month of diminished guest counts and sales at McDonald's. So in 2018, the company planned to turn that around, driving guest counts, reinvigorating sales, and boosting brand affinity. The specific aim was to create a unique and exciting promotion that would transform learnings about McDonald's customers into an actionable program that proved highly valuable to all parties involved. At the same time, McDonald's sought to capitalize on the promotional energy to ramp up digital adoption of the McDonald's app, enhance consumer engagement in the app, and increase CRM participation.
The first step was for the company to harness what it knew about its customers: they're busy, always on the go, and are looking for simple ways to liven up their everyday routine.
Next, McDonald's looked to the calendar — specifically at early fall — and quickly realized the end of summer break brings a return to school, work, and responsibility, with few events or holidays to break up the monotony.
Bolstered by market trends showing the month of October to be a sweet spot for consumers, McDonald's reimagined the typical business slowdown as a strategic opportunity to do something advantageous for customers: give them an enticing Halloween promotion.
The innovative program that McDonald's named "Trick. Treat. Win!" provided customers much-needed breaks from the routine while inviting them in for 27 days of trick-or-treating and daily chances to win their choice of prizes.
The target audience was millennial fast food diners aged 24–39 who were motivated by new experiences and sharable moments. They eat fast food the most often and show a willingness to spend more when it means customizing their order. They are evenly split between males and females and evince a love of Halloween (the most popular millennial holiday) and a passion for games.
Based on research that showed that Halloween-themed experiences strongly resonate with consumers and data that Halloween engagement continues to grow, McDonald's built its creative to heighten customers' sense of choice, their belief in winning, and their affinity for the holiday itself.
The company's creative strategy was rooted in the insight that consumers want real chances of winning — and the real power of choice. With Trick. Treat. Win!, McDonald's allowed customers to choose what daily prizes they wanted to win, and gave them more chances to win them.
When it came to messaging, McDonald's knew there were two keys to success: awareness and relevancy. The company reached customers everywhere they were, launching with a buzzworthy flagship store, dynamic social posts, catchy TV spots, and interruptive packaging.
McDonald's unleashed a powerful Halloween-themed campaign that showcased how easy it was to win at McDonald's with multiple ways to play. McDonald's even changed the messaging midstream to focus more on the prize opportunities, driving increased excitement and participation.
Overall Campaign Execution:
Mobile technology was pivotal to Trick. Treat. Win!'s success. It was so crucial, in fact, that the promotion's entire prize structure and entry method were dependent on new scannable QR code innovations in the McDonald's Global Mobile App. McDonald's focused the majority of its efforts on embracing this new technology and enhancing it for its customers, giving them bold new paths to playing and winning, with plenty of surprises along the way.
McDonald's obtained the largest digital promotion audience to date, reaching over 10 million consumers. The McDonald's App's popularity also skyrocketed, becoming the second most downloaded app in the iOS App Store, which ultimately helped drive consumer excitement, deliver sales, and meet guest-count goals.
The inclusion of scannable QR code game pieces and the execution of the program through a mobile app was its biggest strength, making it easy for consumers to play. Central to customers' desire to play Trick. Treat. Win! was the ability to pick and choose prizes to aim for with a few simple swipes. The technology's interface provided McDonald's the ability to feature new prizes each day of the program and more chances to win, driving increased levels of frequency and engagement.
The execution of the program through mobile gave customers the sense that the ability to win was right at their fingertips. Utilizing an app also allowed the redemption methods to have a greater degree of flexibility. For the first time, customers could redeem their prizes right through the app, making it easy to deliver feel-good moments.
Trick. Treat. Win! drove participation to new heights. With 1.3 billion sweepstakes entries, 31 million site visits, 6.5 million promotion registrations, and four million opt-ins, McDonald’s overcame the “October slump” of years past.
Furthermore, McDonald’s found that: