McD's pushes Big Mac with Sony promo

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mcdonald's corp., worried it won't match last summer's strong same-store sales numbers, is using its planned Sony digital-music promotion as a platform to sell Big Macs in a two-month drive, according to internal documents obtained by Advertising Age.

McDonald's lifted sales of its flagship burger last summer by reviving its famed "twoallbeefpatties" jingle with a hip-hop vibe, sending same-store sales up 7.5% and 9.9% for June and July, respectively. McDonald's hopes to spur another Big Mac Attack by giving away a free download from Sony's soon-to-be-launched Connect service with the sale of every Big Mac from June 8 to Aug. 8. The joint summer promotion will be called Big Mac Meal Tracks, according to the document distributed to McDonald's national franchisee advertising committee. A spokeswoman confirmed most of the program details.

500,000 songs

With the purchase of a Big Mac sandwich or Extra Value Meal, customers will receive an alphanumeric code on the sandwich box to log onto the Sony Connect Web site to make the download normally valued at 99›. The site will have 500,000 songs from five major labels. The deal will begin in the U.S. but is also being planned for between five and eight other countries, including the U.K., China and Japan.

McDonald's will support the promotion with a TV ad, packaging, merchandising and radio. Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett, Chicago, will do the advertising, while Creata Promotions, Oak Brook, Ill., will handle merchandising. The commercial shows the Big Mac box as a catalyst for turning on music and shows elevators moving up and down like an equalizer, said one executive close to the production.

$16 million launch

Sony is expected to launch Connect with $16 million in marketing, including print, out of home and in-theater advertising, street marketing, event marketing, public relations and packaging, according to the document. A Sony spokeswoman declined to comment on deal terms or Connect's marketing.

McDonald's at one point was exploring how to leverage the Sony deal for a longer-term loyalty program (AA, March 15), but opted instead to move up the promotion this summer, according to three executives close to the marketer.

The McDonald's spokeswoman, however, said it was "never going to be a loyalty program."

Stakes are high for McDonald's to maintain momentum.

Last April, the marketer reversed sales declines and has enjoyed robust growth ever since. It posted a 20% same-store sales gain last month, its best yet, but observers and operators are concerned whether Mickey D's can continue recording such phenomenal growth.

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