McDonald’s Hosts Parking Lot Concerts for Millennials
McDonald’s needed a super-sized idea for reconnecting with young adults. (You know, those highly coveted yet squirrelly 18-to-24-year-olds with a finely tuned B.S.-meter that goes off at the first sign of old school-style marketing and advertising? Yeah, them.) So to show them that Mickey-D’s gets who they are and what they’re about, the brand tapped into two new territories: the music market and its own parking lots.
The McDonald’s Live concert series kicked off July 26 and was held at 14 McDonald’s restaurants in 10 markets over three months. The tour hit cities from Los Angeles to Philadelphia and featured emerging artists like Ne-Yo and Kenna, Single File, Sean Kingston, Kevin Michael and Keri Hilson. Between 500 and 1,500 young adults in each market could swing by McDonald’s on a week night, grab a snack and watch the free concert with their peers. Performances were recorded and then posted to the tour’s website, mcdlive.com. The 10-market program went national online, where consumers who couldn’t attend the live shows could check out on-demand video downloads of the concerts and vote for their favorite artist, forward content to their friends, get free new music downloads and grab Quarter Pounder coupons. The musical act with the most votes won a featured spot in a 2008 McDonald’s ad campaign. The brand further leveraged a partnership with MTV, who promoted McDonald’s Live artists on air and at Yahoo! Music, the number one online music destination.
In market, McDonald’s partnered with local radio stations with pre-event promotional mentions; in-studio interviews; listener contests; live, at-event remote broadcasts and on-air ticket giveaways. Online, the brand did website postings, email and text message blasts to fans. At the event, street teams engaged consumers and facilitated meet-and-greets after the shows. French fry packaging featured concert dates and info and tied in seamlessly with the tour’s website, which included interactive packages of ketchup that squirted with the click of a mouse.
In the end, more than one million votes were cast, the campaign generated 200 million impressions, preference skyrocketed 76 percent and brand affinity jumped 83 percent. Sales immediately increased at each of the host restaurants. One flagship location enjoyed an all-time sales record, thanks to the concert.
“What McDonald’s Live did for us is reinforce the power of brand-produced content and event marketing in terms of creating an engaging and memorable experience,” says Douglas Freeland, director of U.S. marketing at McDonald’s. “It gives you an opportunity to make an inextricable link between the consumer experience and the brand. That dynamic leads to brand loyalty.”
Young adults get something fun to do on an otherwise uneventful Tuesday night. Bands just on the verge of hitting it big offer a rare free concert experience. And kids in key demos credit McDonald’s for bringing the whole shebang right to their own backyard. Bam! A brand association is born. We’ll definitely take a side of fries with that.