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Recent online media:,, on Avantgo, and wireless (Source: McDonald's)

Ad forms used: Banners, buttons, rich media units, skyscrapers with html units, dhtml

Agencies: Tribal DDB; Bcom3 Group's Starcom IP

Target audience: Varies

Online exposure: During promotion from April 19 through May 17, had an average of 15.2 million ad impressions (Source: Jupiter)

Results: Company estimates a 20% click-through rate for the "Millionaire" game

Despite being initially slow to embrace the Internet, McDonald's is now moving its brand into the digital realm, using not only online advertising but dozens of new technologies from wireless payment systems to instant messaging. The company won't divulge its online budget, but one executive familiar with the plan says McDonald's is doubling if not tripling its budgets annually.

"Where many companies trying to exploit the benefits of online have stumbled and have retrenched, we are not retrenching from online," says Peter Sterling, VP-media. "We're not going to sell burgers online but we can extend the experience of the brand online and bring McDonald's to life online."

That means adding a layer of interactivity to messages and promotions, something that didn't guide Mickey D's strategy until now, says Paul Gunning, account director at Omnicom Group's Tribal DDB, Chicago. These days, digital activities correspond with the overall marketing calendar. During 2001, McDonald's expanded the number of interactive windows for general consumer markets with three to five events. Activities this year are more focused on retail promotion; next year will include more branding efforts.

McDonald's decade-old Monopoly promotion has gone digital to allow consumers to interact with the ads, choose from three prize options, download the game board and track their game pieces "in a more `immersive' manner," says Mr. Gunning.

McDonald's wanted to tap online gamers and people who would go to McDonald's to play the game. Because Monopoly fans tend to be heavy gamers, the burger marketer tapped such media as sweepstakes portal and Mplayer gaming sites, rather than broad-based portals. Tribal DDB focused on rich media because "gamers are looking for interactivity," says Mr. Gunning.

McDonald's is also using the Web to conduct surveys where random pop-up windows ask people about awareness, purchase intent and other traditional advertising metrics. The target sample is 1,000 responses including the exposed and control groups.

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