It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and we now know that a picture is apparently also worth a Bic Mac.
During the Super Bowl, McDonald’s will air a commercial about their new “Pay With Lovin'” campaign (see “source” for a clip of the commercial). McDonald’s employees will ask customers to take a selfie in McDonald’s, or do something nice like call their mom to wish her a nice day. Doing so will earn the customer a free meal, and McDonald’s hopefully some viral buzz and goodwill.
As seen in the commercial, this is a “feel-good” campaign about bringing people together, similar to the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqT_dPApj9U) or Thai Life Insurance (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R39_RVmNg8E) campaigns.
Campaigns like these are designed to develop goodwill towards a brand, reinvent their image, and develop emotional attachments with the brand. This is exactly what McDonald’s needs, given its image as an unhealthy, cheap, fast-food restaurant that hasn’t overhauled its brand ethos much since days of Grimace, Mayor McCheese, The Hamburglar, et al.
I believe that this campaign will be a success- at least based on the initial advertisement- injecting some fun and new life into a company that is struggling to compete against the new normal of healthier, higher quality, “fast casual” restaurants.
The fact that McDonald’s is integrating mobile technology (taking and uploading selfies) shows that they are in touch with how digital branding works today. The success of this campaign will rely on in-store execution (are minimum wage employees going to be pysched up and energetic about this campaign?); virality of the selfies on social media; and minimal negative backlash (there are a lot of ways that this could backfire). Stay tuned, and make sure you have your cell phone on you next time you pop in to grab a McFlurry.