The McDonald’s Corporation is the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 68 million customers daily in 119 countries. McDonald’s currently employs more than 85,000 people in Australia, and has 780 branches in the country. Australians affectionately refer to McDonald’s as Macca’s. The nickname is so widespread that some restaurants across the country will be officially renamed as Macca’s!
The campaign name TrackMyMacca’s just means ‘Track-My-McDonald’s’. For over a decade McDonald’s has been trying to fight the negative rumours/perception about the quality of their food. The biggest player in the fast food business claims to have nothing to hide from its customers. They have been trying to get the message out via traditional offline media. However it looks like McDonald’s concluded this wasn’t enough; so this campaign was necessary to reach the Australian Public…
McDonald’s is taking steps to appear more transparent and trustworthy. To this end, the company has carried out some very successful initiatives such as ‘Our Food. Your Questions.’ campaign in Canada. But they are still far away from their goal. The majority of people love the food at Macca’s but few actually believe the ingredients are fresh and from local suppliers. The strategy of using traditional media to get the message across is not working, as 50% of Australians still don’t believe that the ingredients in their Big Macs are actually fresh and local. It seems that traditional mass media advertising is not the best vehicle to build credibility and bust the myths. So the task was to find a new way to generate a positive conversation with the customers.
THE PSYCHOLOGY BEHIND THE CAMPAIGN
The task was handed to DDB Sydney. The agency realised that if people don’t engage with ordinary print media and commercials, the message is lost. However, if consumers have a chance to discover the information for themselves, then the desired change in attitude is much more likely to happen.
Dylan Harrison, the Creative Director from DDB Sydney describes the thought process: “We thought that perhaps if you want people to believe something then maybe we should stop telling them and let them discover it for themselves. What if we could invite them inside the conversation? Give them the tool to investigate for themselves? We are literally opening the doors here and saying that we have nothing to hide and we have a really good story to tell. This is a marketing behaviour: inviting our audience into our process. And you couldn’t do that in broadcast.
REPLACING OLD MEDIA
The agency decided to go with a very low paid media spend. They wanted to find a way to take an already existing piece of ‘content’ (the product packaging) and transform it into animated media. Most of the budget was spent on creating the technical solutions, which played a key role in this campaign.
DELIVERING THE FUN ELEMENT
A free iOS app called ‘TrackMyMacca’s’ was created. The app allowed users to track down some of the ingredients in the food they purchased in order to prove that the meat, pickles and other ingredients are actually provided by local suppliers. The app became a storyteller, which added a sense of fun to the in-restaurant experience. The mind-set of the McDonald’s customer was really taken into consideration.
Dylan Harrison from DDB Sydney says: “One of the business challenges for McDonald’s is to offer some sense of play and fun in the restaurant. One of their core values is the idea of sanctuary: you can come to McDonald’s and eat with your hands, play and have a sense of fun. Knowing that ‘fun’ was one of the business challenges, we really wanted to put it back into the restaurant. We like the idea that everybody who sits at McDonald’s is on Facebook or checking the news headlines. So they could be doing the same behaviour on their mobiles but actually playing.”
HOW IT WORKED
The app itself was quite complicated. Firstly, the GPS provides your location (i.e. the restaurant you are visiting). Then you have to purchase one or more of the following items, which come in a special ‘Track My Macca’s’ packaging: McChicken burger, Big Mac, Filet-OFish, 3, 6 or 10 packs of Chicken McNuggets, large/medium French Fries. These are the items with traceable ingredients.
After purchasing, the mobile has to be pointed at the packaging. Image recognition software triggered by McDonald’s packaging (188 million pieces were produced) calculates what you’re about to eat. By combining this with the date and time, the app accesses McDonald’s supply database to obtain the story of the exact products.
After the customer has completed the rather tricky scanning process, 3D augmented reality turns restaurant tables into stages, letting users pick an ingredient and find out all about it. For example, one of the stories, accompanied by the animations, goes like this: “To make great Chicken McNuggets we need great chicken morsels. So we got ours from Eagle Farm, Queensland.” The experience can then be shared via Facebook, encouraging others to try the app.
To attract attention to the new initiative, additional media was used: including McDonald’s trucks with the huge message on the side ‘Keep on trackin’’: location-specific posters pointing to the restaurant and local farms.
Dylan Harrison from DDB Sydney on the ROI of this campaign: “If you look at equivalent media value from the results of the case study in terms of PR impressions and active users of the app – if you put that against a traditional awareness campaign then the ROI was very good because we had a very low paid media budget. So it was about using things that are already being produced in this case, taking literally the packaging and turning it into media. This was a very effective tool for us.”
- In the first month the app was downloaded 45,883 times (once per minute). It became the #1 app in the Food and Drink category in Australia.
- Over 51,327 people viewed the demo video and engagement was strong with 62,219 views on the core messaging screens.
- Close to 25% of users experienced the full journey through the 3D world.
- TrackMyMacca’s received 660m impressions worth of PR coverage (in Australia and many other countries) on launch.
The numbers indicate that TrackMyMacca’s was a very successful awareness campaign. However, it still received quite extensive criticism from blogs and press articles.
Locavore and sustainable food expert Ewan McEoin of Melbourne, said: “While it was good McDonald’s was giving consumers more information about their food, not all that information was particularly helpful.”
Many people found the app to be useless as it didn’t provide any nutritional information and it was only available for use AFTER purchase. Apparently some users also experienced technical issues.
“TrackMyMacca’s is an iOS app that offers some insights into where McDonald’s sources ingredients for some of its products. It’s an OK idea but badly executed and ultimately not much use.” – Angus Kidman,
FINDING THE STORY
Dylan Harrison from DDB Sydney explains why storytelling is important: “Find what that story is and tell it really well in an engaging way. McDonald’s has got a good story. They operate in a context where there is a lot of negativity and resistance around good quality. The truth is different. So we had a good story to tell, which they had been telling already for a long time without really getting much traction. So we got more traction by changing the behaviour in the way that we told that story.”
LET CUSTOMERS DISCOVER IT FOR THEMSELVES
Several campaigns have proved (the brightest example being ‘Dumb Ways to Die’) that people don’t really like to be told what to think or do. However, if they are able to discover the message for themselves and actually engage in the process then the results can be very different. TrackMyMacca’s might at first seem like a complicated way to share a simple story, but understanding consumer behaviour and psychology sheds some light on the strategy.