McDonald's replaces its real-world balloons with digital ones

In Sweden, the chain debuts an AR experience to take the place of the popular party decorations

Published On
Sep 28, 2020

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In Sweden, McDonald’s has said farewell to latex balloons in its restaurants as part of its efforts to reduce single-use plastics and waste. Instead, now when kids stop by the chain, they can partake in a new balloon-themed AR game that invites them to pop the flying bubbles as they “float” through the restaurant, in a campaign from Nord DDB.

Though the balloon industry has stated that latex balloons are biodegradable, conservationists say that they are actually “resistant” to degradation in typical scenarios. Mass balloon releases have been banned in several states in the U.S. due to the potential environmental impact.  



“To some, it might seem sad that we are getting rid of our beloved balloons, but it is an
important step on our journey towards reducing single-use plastics and waste,” said Staffan Ekstam, director of marketing at McDonald’s Sweden, in a statement. “By replacing our balloons with a digital AR game, we are giving more people the opportunity to have even more fun since the game can be played from anywhere, while at the same time doing something important for our planet."

Starting this month, visitors can play the game in the McDonald’s app, whether they’re at the restaurant or at home.

Though the idea is a win for the planet, what of the impact on kids who are likely now spending more time than ever on screens, given the current pandemic? The effort doesn't do much for families looking to place a limit on children's digital lives. 

The campaign is the latest in environmental efforts we've seen from the chain. In the U.K., it will be testing out reusuable cups for its hot drinks, and in Japan, it debuted a campaign that invited consumers to drop off their old Happy Meal toys so they could be upcycled into restaurant trays