Old McDonald had a farm


And on that farm he had over 60million users


McDonald’s have created a virtual farm on the internet using the gaming phenomenon Farmville. Article link 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 (, 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 ( 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 ( 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?


3 thoughts on “Old McDonald had a farm

  1. I really enjoyed your article but I too question what the aim of the McDonald’s Farmville game is. Maybe suggestive selling but I wonder how many times one would think BURGER whilst playing farmer. It just doesn’t sit well. And then the other issue of those people that are anti fast food, you’d be challenged to even get them to play. It is unlikely that MacDonald would seek exposure in this way without a plan but I am really struggling to see what that could be. Maybe the association of “playfulness” and “fun” along with the brand which is similar to what Coca-Cola does with their ads. This seems to be a slightly less efficient way to get the message across though. Actually I am quite annoyed that this will bug me now for quite a while. Cheers Marion

  2. It’s funny how a big company plays small strategies to interact with costumers. I think this is just a branding strategy. Make noise as part of its repositioning strategy. We have seen how the company its changing its logo in all McRestaurants. The issue here is how appealing is the game to attrack customers attention. In my opinion after years Mcdonalds has had a bad reputation in regards to how the company grow up its animals in farms. Probably the farm will be a clean and green farm but customers need time to change their perception about Mcdonalds activities in real life, and that is something that a game is not going to change.

  3. Hi Mikey, not too sure what Ronald is up to here apart from Brand Interaction, as I would also argue that ‘farm fresh’ (while they try and advertise it being so on their packaging), is not something many of us think about when we drive thru at 11pm for a greasy quarter pounder with cheese, and a post mix coke. I’d like to think Marion’s take is more the way they were positioning this with facebook users, i.e. playful, social, in touch with what everyone is out there doing these days. Whether we like it or not, social media is the only way to get heard, and to not include some form of social media strategy into your marketing mix is suicide for companies who wish to remain relevant in the eyes of the masses. I have even begun to hear more about SCRM, ‘social media customer relationship management’.

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