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McDonald’s sports activations drive up to 8x more mobile redemptions

As McDonald’s continues its efforts to strengthen sales, the chain has found success in leveraging sports activations within its McD mobile application that offer promotions tied to local sports teams, resulting in 57 percent more active users in those markets.

The sports activation platform, powered by mobile customer engagement service Mowingo, offers location-based deals in select markets that aim to drive downloads of the McD app and bolster in-store traffic with consumers. Mowingo has seen markets with in-app sports activations, such as Baltimore, Portland and Spokane, average 57 percent more active users than markets that do not offer sports-linked deals, as well as result in five to eight times more in-store mobile redemptions during a 24-hour window.

“The sports activations ultimately serve a dual purpose for the brand,” said Karyn Andrade Bordoni, marketing and operations manager at Mowingo, Inc., Los Altos, CA. “It allows the local franchisees to tap into community spirit and participate in the excitement of the game.

“This reinforces the local fan base and helps remind them that the McDonald’s restaurant lives in the community. Then, by tying that fan spirit to a limited-time offer, the local McDonald’s is able to build on fervor to boost mobile redemptions, and ultimately sales in-store.”

Sports and mobile
The sports sector is potentially lucrative for food and beverage marketers, as fans frequently order their favorite snacks or meals to watch major games or live events.

The McDonald’s co-op in Portland regularly offers a “100 Point Play” deal that sends all McD app users in the city’s vicinity a mobile promotion for free medium fries after the Portland Trailblazers score 100 points during a game. Users have a small redemption window, therefore encouraging them to visit the bricks-and-mortar location as soon as possible.

Consumers are much more likely to download the app when presented with promotions tied to local sports teams, and McDonald’s also benefits from the psychological association between its brand and customers’ favorite home teams.

Other cities, such as Baltimore and Washington, have run similar promotions, with local app users receiving 24-hour-long offers whenever the Baltimore Ravens football team or Washington Nationals baseball team scored a certain amount.

Boosting commerce
Local McDonald’s franchisees that have been using sports activations have experienced thousands of incremental visits, according to Mowingo. Sales have been boosted due to customers’ tendency to purchase additional items during visits, or bring friends and family with them.

The promotion relating to the Washington Nationals offers fans free Chicken McNuggets, which typically prompts consumers to buy fries and a beverage to round out their meal. Mowingo was not able to share specific numbers, but affirmed that return on investment was extremely high for the franchisees.

Messages and promotions are also segmented by area and team. Mowingo’s markets in Washington also received a push notification on Super Bowl Sunday stating that users’ local McDonald’s were supporting the Seattle Seahawks ahead of the big game.

McDonald’s has been ramping up mobile efforts after a disappointing year in sales in 2014 (see story). However, Mowingo claimed that mobile offers account for several percentage points of incremental sales for the brand’s restaurants that leverage the McD app, proving that mobile is a sound choice for McDonald’s to continue investing in as 2015 progresses.

Food and beverage marketers seeking to capitalize on live events or sporting games should be emulating McDonald’s example of tying the brand to fan-favorite local teams, which establishes a personal connection with the consumer.

“What cements the effectiveness is the short redemption window,” Ms. Bordoni said. “While sports activations ensure relevancy and energize the local community, when they’re combined with flash promotions, where the redemption window is typically only 24 hours from the moment the team scored, in-store sales skyrocket.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York