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McDonald’s builds free breakfast delivery promotion around mobile nominations

McDonald’s is asking customers in Northern California to text or tweet their nominations for who should receive a free breakfast delivered by McDonald’s employees, pointing to how mobile is at the center of efforts to surprise and delight consumers.

Beginning this week, consumers can select friends, family members or colleagues to receive a free Egg McMuffin or Sausage Egg and Cheese Griddle with a small coffee and hash browns delivered to their residence, free of charge. The mobile-only promotion speaks to the food marketer’s growing focus on reaching users of digital platforms and attempt to raise sales by ramping up awareness of its breakfast items.

“The customer of the future is using mobile technology as their primary means of gleaning information,” said Clay Merrill, local spokesman for Northern California McDonald’s. “So we wanted to do something where we could engage with our customers where we know they are getting their information and engaging with friends, family, and the brands that they patronize.

“Mobile technology is the way of the future and this is our way of starting to find new ways to communicate and engage with our customers.”

Serving the community
Consumers who opt to nominate friends and family for the free breakfasts may choose up to 10 individuals for the delivery service, which will span to any non-residential address in the designated counties.

McDonald’s claims this is the first time it has enabled customers to send breakfast deliveries to others, and hopes consumers in the Sacramento region can cheer up friends or family, or start the day off right with tasty treats for their work colleagues.

To nominate people before the May 31 end date, fans must text “amlove” to 24587, which will text them back a link to the designated Web page to fill out. Social media-savvy consumers can use Twitter to send a Tweet via the #ncalAMshares hashtag, also designed to bounce back with a link to the Web site.

As consumers spend increasing amounts of time on their smartphones, particularly in the morning while commuting to work or doing daily tasks, this campaign will likely have the potential for significant outreach.

“Who doesn’t like a free breakfast?” said Jeff Hasen, founder of Gotta Mobilize, Seattle, WA. “Other than it being delivered in bed, getting food in the office is the next best thing.

“Hopefully the franchisee is thinking longer term,” he said. “What better time to ask for an opt-in than when someone has enjoyed a hand-delivered, free meal?

“The smart marketers are capitalizing on such moments of delight. Think about an airline asking you to rate its app. It makes a lot more sense to reach out to someone after you have made their day with a first-class upgrade rather than ruined it with a long delay or flight cancelation.”

Recipients for the free breakfast are set to be selected by a first-come, first-serve basis. McDonald’s will be delivering the food items in its branded cars, beginning on June 1 and continuing through June 6, during its store locations’ breakfast hours.

Participating Northern California counties include Sacramento, Nevada, Placer, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba, San Joaquin, El Dorado, Solano, Colusa, Amador, Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Calaveras.

Mr. Merrill confirmed there are currently no plans for McDonald’s to roll out delivery services.

Mobile focus
The “I’m Lovin’ It” marketer has recently been placing a magnifying glass on its mobile strategy, leveraging social media, SMS and other mobile-friendly platforms in a bid to entice more consumers to purchase its products, dispute concerns about the quality and healthiness of its food and raise flagging sales in general.

McDonald’s recently leveraged a new proximity marketing strategy at 15 McD Cafés in Istanbul, Turkey, sending beacon-enabled promotions to customers within its venues via a mobile application, resulting in a conversion rate of 20 percent (see story).

The brand is also no stranger to SMS-based promotions. Jumping on mobile data’s growing status as currency, this past February McDonald’s offered customers in the Philippines free SMS messaging with food purchases, further polishing the fast-food restaurant chain’s image as a mobile marketing trailblazer (see story).

In terms of social media, the brand revamped its “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign to highlight recent healthy additions to the menu. In January, it tapped social media to promote transparency about its food by inviting customers to submit questions such as “What part of the chicken is a Chicken McNugget™?” on Twitter and Facebook (see story).

“This campaign was more about reaching our customers in the Northern California area in a different way,” McDonald’s Mr. Merrill said. “We are using all the traditional forms of advertising and marketing to reach our customers but it was time for us to do something a little different that allowed us to engage with our customers in a new and unique way.

“We anticipate that it will continue to raise awareness for McDonald’s breakfast which we know our customers love.”

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