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McDonald’s banks on mobile gamification to boost app downloads

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April 6, 2016

McDonald's knows mobile is a paramount marketing strategy

McDonald’s knows mobile is a paramount marketing strategy

McDonald’s is treating fans in the greater Philadelphia region to a four-pronged sweepstakes campaign and boosting usage of its recently released application by inviting users to redeem any in-app offer during the month of April for a chance to win $50,000.

The fast-food chain is targeting Philadelphia area residents with the return of its Money Monopoly campaign, which offers a mix of cash prizes, free public transportation vouchers and the ability to participate in a life-size Monopoly board game. However, McDonald’s is ensuring it keeps a strong mobile focus at the heart of this initiative, as evidenced by its decision to enter one lucky McD app user into a $50,000 sweepstakes each week through April 25.

“In Mowingo’s experience, adding a gamification layer is indeed a very smart move,” said Daniel Dreymann, CEO and co-founder of Mowingo. “Consumers love games, and gamification is a winning strategy for smart retailers – as Macy’s demonstrated when it leveraged beacons for a Thanksgiving gamification of its app.

“We’re now experimenting with bidirectional Beaconix beacons, creating games that weren’t possible with standalone beacons.”

Mowingo powers the McDonald’s mobile app.

Adding mobile to the game board
McDonald’s annual Money Monopoly game is making its return to the Philadelphia region, bringing residents $3,000 in free parking as well as $15,000 in complimentary SEPTA rides. Fans will have a one-in-four chance of earning a prize this year, thanks to the multiple ways to participate in the contest.

The fast-food chain kicked off the fun last night in Dilworth Park by bringing the Monopoly game to life. Individuals were able to take selfies with the well-known Mr. Monopoly mascot, win related prizes, play trivia games and partake in a life-size version of the board game.

Consumers will also be able to continue the excitement at an event at Citizens Bank Park on April 12, during which the Big Mac marketer will give away $15,000 worth of free SEPTA rides from City Hall Station, as well as $3,000 in free parking to McD app users.

mono 420
McDonald’s Philadelphia posted photos from yesterday’s event on its Twitter account

This notion allows individuals to “enjoy free parking” or “take a ride” on SEPTA, both of which are phrases found on the Monopoly board.

McDonald’s is also ensuring the celebration has a strong mobile component, showcasing the brand’s desire to connect with millennials and younger consumers. Not only will players be able to earn cash prizes by collecting game stamps and peeling instant win stickers given with meals, but they will also be able to participate in an online and mobile app sweepstakes.

Customers who receive game stamps can earn four additional entries into the $50,000 prize sweepstakes by visiting the mobile-optimized www.playatmcd.com and entering each stamp’s online code.

Most notably, McDonald’s is attempting to fuel more app downloads by enabling any customer who redeems an in-app offer through April 25 to be entered into the weekly contest for the chance to win $50,000.

Leveraging mobile gamification will likely be an optimal way for McDonald’s to boost awareness of its app and prompt more consumers to download it – especially since it comes with a welcome offer.

“Marketers need to find ways to engage consumers beyond banner ads and TV campaigns,” said David Cooperstein, chief marketing officer of PebblePost. “By using techniques like gamification, personalization, and connections between digital and physical mail, they start to serve (and reap the benefits of) the entire marketing breakfast.”

Ramping up on mobile tactics
McDonald’s has increasingly been relying on mobile strategies over the past several weeks, meaning the Money Monopoly initiatives are part of a larger tie-in.

The fast-food chain’s announcement that it is testing mobile ordering in undisclosed markets arrives on the heels of its revamped loyalty platform, but only time will tell if it will be enough to win customers’ allegiance (see story).

The newfound U.S.-based rewards program will reportedly hinge on targeted offers for driving frequency and discounts based on previous purchases instead of relying on broad-appeal coupons, as the chain has done in the past (see story).

mono oth 420
McDonald’s new app for United States consumers

Nevertheless, mobile gamification has been a tried-and-true strategy for most quick service restaurant marketers, likely due to younger consumers’ quick adoption of smartphone-based games or contests.

“It’s not the first time Mowingo’s technology is used for gamification; for example: we helped generate a tremendous buzz in Asia last year, when McDonald’s launched a surprise alarm clock app in several countries,” Mowingo’s Mr. Dreymann said. “And while gamification boosts the number of app downloads, the more interesting metric is the soaring usage of the app by existing users, to increase their chances of winning.

“App-based sweepstakes worked extremely well for McDonald’s in Asia, and I’m confident the same will be true in the United States.”

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Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at alex@mobilemarketer.com.

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