It’s time for Monopoly at McDonalds again, a promotion that has been running for about 6 years over a few countries – if something works, repeating it is always a good idea. I’ve seen heavy TV promotion, lots of in-store stuff and online promotion. There’s bound to be print and radio out there as well. This is a big push for McDonalds.
They are actually running 2 games, one off-line and one on-line. For the off-line work, you need to colelct the various Monopoly properties from the game cards that are given out with the food. Make a set and you get your money. The on-line game cannot be combined, you play it completely separately; you get codes from food purchases, enter them into the site and get moves around a board. Again, get a set and win some money. The prizes are actually pre-loaded American Express cards, a great tie on for the two brands. They limit the number of times you can play to 10x a day, which is still probably slightly too much food for oneperson but would suit a family. The big prize is $1million, which is obviously large enough to drive sales up as people chase those missing peices.
There’s a couple of things on the site that reassure players that this is for real, if they had any doubts even with a big brand such as McDonalds. The first is some stories from last year’s winners – rel people, real stories, telling how they have won the money. The second is the ever increasing ticker of the number of winners – if someone else is winning it gives you hope that you will as well.
Looking at the social media aspects of the promotion, I’m not sure if there was planned outreach.. The campaign has been going for long enough and has been successful enough that it may not be needed. There’s a lot of buzz about the promotion over the years already (for example, see this really nice analysis of the 2006 game and ways to win at badpirate.) There was a lot of anticipation on the game/prize/sweepstakes forums, with people discussing how many envelopes they need to write and other tactics needed to win; McDonald’s staff responded to emails from board members askign if it was being re-run with proposed dates and where the rules would be.
One strange insight that I found was a comment from a person who was unhappy with the rules this years and was wondering what McDonalds were doing about disappointing their loyal fans, then goes on to say that they only eat at McDonalds once or twice a year except during this promotion. The fact that someone identifies themselves as a loyal fan ONLY for promotions is something that probably never gets mentioned, from a value perspective they may not be high value over the year, but they could have a high influence factor for the rest of the year. The same person later posts about being a hype machine, getting all their co-workers involved in the game after explaining the odds. Interesting behaviour to take account of when planning these things.
Another side effect are the Craigslist requests and ebay auctions for guides, the Yahoo answers requesting information or pieces. The tools are being used to connect people about the game, far more than ever before.