McMarketing: The Strange Marketing of the Big Mac

One company that keeps on cropping up when I’m looking up examples of guerrilla and ambient marketing is McDonalds. The fast food giant knows a thing or two about how to break through the advertising clutter out there to connect with their target audience in new and interesting ways. Whatever your own personal view of the chain is, it’s hard to knock some of these examples of clearly clever marketing. These examples, from around the world, really puts my local McDonald’s to shame, with their discount coupon on the front of the local paper. Or was that Burger King? Hard to differentiate when both of them use the same tactics.

For a chain that thrives on having a menu that is almost identical the world over, they do like to mix things up in their marketing. Here’s 15 examples of cool McDonalds Marketing.

01. McDonalds Shamrock Shake

You have probably seen this already but isn’t it just great? To take advantage of the Chicago river being turned green for Paddy’s day, Ronald placed a 24 foot Shamrock Shake next to it.

02. Shaker Fries

I don’t recall shaker fries, but a quick wiki and I can see they’re fries that well you put some sort of powder flavouring over and then you shake to get the full taste. Here in new Zealand they used the rumble strips that will shake a car when driven over to promote the fries.

03. McDonalds Milkshake Billboard

From a few years back, another simple idea that took an average looking billboard and made it much more interesting.

04. Swedish Poster Puzzle

Remember those games in the 80’s that involved moving a series of tiles into a specific order to make an image? Well McDonalds did it in Sweden on one of their outdoor posters

05. McAmbush Boston

In Boston last summer McDonalds set up a fake lecture for a bunch of Advertising students. Hidden cameras were set up in the lecture hall, to catch the students reactions as they attend an intentionally boring lecture. They yawn and start to fall asleep – that is until some actors playing McDonalds employee’s (I bet that was a stretch) enter with free cups of coffee. This clip is from a news show explaining the stunt. Watch this at

06. McDonalds Free Coffee

I featured this already in a post, but it’s worth repeating. From Canada McDonalds took two unusla approaches to promote its free coffee campaign. In the first the amount of beans in the bus stop shelter were slowly reduced as the end of the campaign drew closer. I have no idea where the beans went, or if they had to be physically removed, but I sure hope they didn’t end up in coffee. The second is  a converted lamppost made to look like a pot of coffee and a giant cup.

07. McDonalds Napkin

Isn’t this cool. It’s from Sweden in 2008 and its an indoor poster site made to look like a giant napkin dispenser.

08. McDonalds Salad Billboard

To promote the fast food co’s range of salads they planted and grew 16 varieties of lettuce found at McDonalds – on a billboard.

09. McDonalds Interactive Billboard

Taking advantage of the fact most phones have cameras, McDonalds came up with this clever idea for an interactive billboard. A series of objects travel across the digital billboard and the player has to snap a McDonalds menu item such as a pie or a sundae, get a pic of the item and take it to the nearest McDonalds to claim your buy 1 and get 1 free deal.

10. McDonalds & Coke

The fast food chain teamed up with Coca Cola for this co-promotion. Regular coke was advertised to those who took teh stairs and Diet for those that took the escalator.

11. McDonalds Use Facebook Location Feature

Not strictly guerrilla or ambient, but its a relatively new method of communication – the new Facebook location feature. McD’s will be the first brand to take advantage of the feature allowing users to post their location within a status update with a picture of a product, but they won’t be alone in that marketing space for long. More on the story here.

12. Are We There Yet?

A very strange ad for McDonalds that plays upon the long family car journey with the kids screaming ‘are we there yet’, now imagine that crossed with something like The Omen.

13. McDonalds Dollar Menu

In the US McD’s promoted its Dollar Menu (or as its known here the Euro menu) with the Dollar Van Demo’s. Dollar Vans are essentially private owned vehicals in urban areas that are under served by public transport. The Dollar Van Demo’s promotion had the fast food brand sponsor a type of reality show that allowed New York rappers record demo’s while catching a ride that could end up being featured on a advert. The making of video is below, while the link to one of the adverts is here.

14. McDonalds Corn Maze Ad

To promote its coffee McD’s cut a giant advert into a 42 acre field in Nebraska. The advert, only viewable from the sky was also a giant maze that took up to 90 minutes to navigate. Those who completed it got a free voucher for a McDonalds coffee

15. Giant Hatching Egg

This is from Chicago and at 6am every morning the giant egg ‘hatches’ just in time for breakfast and closes again at 10.30am

Some bizarre but very entertaining marketing examples from the Ronald McDonald marketing teams. Have I left anything out? Feel free to post it below.

Subscribe to this blog by RSS or Email, or leave a comment below

Enter your email address:

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.