McDonald’s have created a virtual farm on the internet using the gaming phenomenon Farmville. Article link www.digitalbuzzblog.com If you play the Farmville app on Facebook, what will happen for one day only is that McDonalds will have a neighbouring farm next to yours. You can then basically help grow this farm to earn points and special virtual token McDonald rewards.
Does old McDonald have a plan?
McDonalds does lend itself quite well to the Farmville application, we can see the connection with food, the planting and harvesting of ingredients that go into the McDonalds food, albeit in reality none of the real ingredients would be sourced directly from a farm. But what could they possibly gain from such a campaign? Well for starters they could start engaging with the over 61million active users of Farmville (www.statistics.allfacebook.com), on top of that they can be perceived as having a bit of personality and having fun, maybe they wanted to tap into the child inside us. If we take a look at the DDB case study for McDonalds (www.ddb.com.au) they talk about how they changed the McDonalds branding in late 2007 to be ‘about moments’, DDB were also responsible for setting up that giant McDonalds playground set in Sydney which was used in the latest commercial (www.mcdonalds.com.au). I don’t believe they are trying to create moments in Farmville but I do believe they are trying to talk to the child inside the Farmville users.
Ronald McDonald and friends
McDonald’s food is fast-food full stop! Regardless of the healthy attempts to clean up their act, it’s not a place where you would want to have dinner every night. So I highly doubt that McDonalds were out to convert the one off abusers into lifelong users. I don’t think the plan was for the people who play to suddenly decide “Hey, McDonalds is really cool, I’m never going to eat from any other fast food restaurant because McDonalds are displaying some sort of health conscious fresh ingredients message with this Farmville evolvement.” Farmville is an online sociable game, it is an online community alive inside of the social network mecca Facebook. By connecting people through a highly engaging social medium you begin to create a following, now Ronald and friends can go harvest.
The game face
Being a student of Multimedia I have always had an appreciation for games. It is quite incredible as to what can be accomplished in the way of special effects and tactile sensations that immerse gamers into another world. The experience becomes addictive and the player has the undivided attention of the game creators. If we think about this type of scenario for a second, as marketers what is it that we are constantly striving for?…. Our audience’s attention! Movies achieve the same effect, the way a movie captures the audience is similar to the way a game does, and product placement has been rife in movies for years, so it only seems logical that we could begin to look at this as a channel for marketing.
Frankly, Farmville does not appeal to me, I struggle to see the games attraction, maybe it just lacks the momentum of the other high intensity games. It would be interesting to see what substantial profits that could be gained from running a program such as this. It may be that they simply wanted a huge brand interaction, after all I’m sure there wouldn’t be many other cheaper alternatives of achieving exposure to over 61million users globally. Or possibly it is an experiment from which they can learn from if they ever desire to run similar or bigger events in the future. Maybe McDonalds have achieved the jump on its competitors, or maybe they simply just wanted the users of Farmville to storm up a craving from all that hard farm work for a delicious royale with cheese?