McDonald's Spreads the Lovin' with Emotional Campaign

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With Valentine's Day less than two weeks away, love is clearly in the air. Yet, while most are scrambling for super-sized bouquets of roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, McDonald's has gone one step further by converting affection into currency. For just two weeks--February 2 through February 14--the fast-food chain will allow select customers to pay using intangible gestures, such as hugs and high fives.
Digital Engagement

With Valentine's Day less than two weeks away, love is clearly in the air. Yet, while most are scrambling for super-sized bouquets of roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, McDonald's has gone one step further by converting affection into currency. For just two weeks--February 2 through February 14--the fast-food chain will allow select customers to pay using intangible gestures, such as hugs and high fives.Known as the Pay With Lovin' campaign, McDonald's latest initiative adds an element of gamification that aims to reengage customers by tugging at their heartstrings. The official rules state that 100 winners will be randomly selected at participating restaurants throughout the promotional period. During this time, all winners will be asked to pay for their current order by spreading love instead of spending cash. Watch the video below, which premiered during the Super Bowl, to see this program in action:

"We're on a journey of transformation and a key part of that journey is how we engage with our customers," Deborah Wahl, chief marketing officer for McDonald's, told The Wall Street Journal. Over the last year, McDonald's has encountered an increasing number of challenges, particularly when it comes to profits. Last year, the chain's net income fell nearly 15 percent--the first year of declining sales in three decades--while food quality concerns across the globe continue to plague the brand's reputation. Thus, McDonald's hopes to revamp its perception, especially among millennials, in an effort to compete with the "fast casual" trend brought on by popular establishments, such as Panera and Chipotle.

"There's a lot that goes on in the world and if a brand like ours can really come across and provide those good moments, provide that delight, that treat and that excitement, that's what we should be doing for our customers," Wahl added.

By focusing on experience, McDonald's intends to realign its position in the market, drawing attention to both its friendlier customer service and healthier menu options. However, after almost 60 years, this establishment runs the risk of obsolescence because, despite its greatest efforts, most consumers still perceive this food as cheap and unhealthy. Of course, the Golden Arches have become an undeniable icon, once created to represent familiarity and comfort, but today's ecosystem threatens their longevity.

Will McDonald's be able to rebound from this setback and revolutionize its approach to fast food? Only time will tell. In the interim, let's take our cues from this campaign, for the free meals are secondary--Let love for your fellow humans dictate your actions, not your love of money.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION