The move comes, said Mr. Biespiel, as the company seeks to
connect with young people. To reach that audience, he said that
McDonald's is working to evolve into more of a content producer
rather than simply a large advertiser that buys massive amounts of
Mr. Biespiel said the company knows it needs to reach people who
are "moving across screens," in particular millennials. "We have to
try different things. Some thing work out well, some don't. Part of
our culture of continuous improvement, and with this we're trying
new methods we've never tried before."
The "joy" effort will start in Sydney on March 24 local time
(because of time zones, the effort will actually span a 36-hour
period). The Sydney effort will be a "one-of-a-kind experience that
interrupts the morning commute in Sydney by encouraging people to
pause, forget about their routine and share in a moment of joy on
their way to work as they play in a giant coffee cup ball pit,"
according to the company.
Activations in Manila, Ho Chi Min City and Auckland, New
Zealand, will follow shortly after. Other countries that will be
part of the campaign include Japan, Italy, China, France, Poland,
Brazil, Romania, Argentina, the U.K. and the U.S. In the U.S., the
company will put on a Ne-Yo concert; the R&B singer has been
crowdsourcing lyrics for a new song via social media that he'll
perform at the show. In London, pop star Jessie J will host a
concert on a double-decker bus.
Mr. Biespiel said that many of the company's agencies are in on
the effort, including Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett, Omnicom's
TBWA and DDB. TBWA's New York office is shepherding
He said the global campaign is the inaugural effort being
managed through McDonald's new global brand hub, a capability that
will allow it to handle online chatter and manage 24 efforts
simultaneously in one place. "The hub is the centerpiece of a
reinvigoration of how we can connect and speak with our customers,"
said Mr. Biespiel, who called it part of McDonald's "strategic bet"
on digital and the "first opportunity to connect disparate events
around a common theme."
McDonald's strategic bet includes the hiring of McDonald's first
digital officer, Atif Rafiq, joined the company in 2013. He's
overseen a number of launches, including various tests of mobile
ordering and payment, as well as McDonald's World Cup effort, which
included an augmented reality game that interacted with McDonald's
fry boxes. Mr. Rafiq also opened a small office in San Francisco
last year to connect with the tech world. By the end of the year,
Mr. Biespiel said that Mr. Rafiq's digital team will grow to 250
The fast-feeder has been battling a protracted sales decline. To
reverse the sales slump, the company is making aggressive changes,
including trimming down the menu and speeding up operations. It's
seeking to both connect with younger consumers in the U.S., and
overseas. For 2014, global same-store sales decreased 1.0% and in
the fourth quarter while U.S. same-store sales fell 1.7%.
McDonald's hasn't had a positive sales quarter in the U.S. since
third quarter 2013, when it posted a 0.7% increase.
As its new CEO Steve Easterbrook took the helm earlier this
month, the chain posted disappointing same-store sales for the
month of February, which declined 1.7% globally and 4.0% in the