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McDonald’s uses mobile data as currency in new promotion

McDonald’s, jumping on mobile data’s growing status as currency, is offering customers in the Philippines free SMS messaging with food purchases, further polishing the fast-food restaurant chain’s image as a mobile marketing trailblazer.

The world’s largest restaurant chain and Smart Communications, a leading wireless provider in the Philippines, are giving customers in that nation a coupon for a day of unlimited text and unlimited access to mobile chat applications with every McDonald’s value meal upgraded with fries or a sundae. The move underscores the value of mobile messaging to consumers.

“Any promotion that links the consumer to the brand in a real tactile way and provides value, is going to do quite well,” said Michael Weaver, senior vice president for business development with Waterfall, a San Francisco-based mobile messaging cloud platform that works with companies such as Pizza Hut, 7-Eleven and Anheuser-Busch.

“This is a format people understand well and encourages exactly the right amount of interaction.

“It has been shown time and time again that simplicity and clarity drive the best results in mobile,” he said. “The challenge for McDonalds will be not to over-complicate or throw in too many social hooks and or steps.

“Generally speaking, of course, people visiting McDonalds are looking for efficiency as part of the equation,” he said.

McDonald’s, Oak Brook, IL, did not respond to media inquiries.

Unlimited texting
Super Messaging 10 gives Smart Prepaid subscribers nationwide one day of unlimited text to all Smart, Sun and Talk ‘N Text subscribers, as well as all-day access to top chat apps such as Facebook Messenger, Line, Viber, WeChat and Whatsapp, without needing a Wi-Fi connection.

Rewarding mobile gamers.

McDonald’s has established itself as a happy place where Pinoys can get together and create real-life connections – much in the same way that Smart, as the country’s leading mobile network, has enabled Pinoys to keep meaningful interactions with their loved ones anytime and anywhere through mobile technology, said Charles A. Lim, executive vice president and head of Smart’s wireless consumer division, in a release.

The partnership lets McDonald’s, which emphasizes affordable prices, give customers even more value by allowing them to stay connected with their loved ones even outside the restaurants, Margot Torres, McDonald’s senior vice president for marketing, said in the release.

To get a Super Messaging 10 coupon, the consumer first purchases any McDonald’s meal plus fries or a sundae or any Everyday McSavers product. In return, he or she will receive a Super Messaging 10 peel-off card.

The meal can be dine-in, takeout, delivery or drive-thru.

To redeem the coupon, the user texts Super10<SPACE><Coupon Code> to 6236.

The coupons are available at all McDonald’s outlets until April 21. Redemption of the Super Messaging 10 codes is available until June 21.

The Super Messaging 10 promo provides all-day unlimited texting to Smart, Sun, and Talk ‘N Text, and allows unlimited free access to chat applications on a phone without the need for Wi-Fi.

The promotion is available to both Smart prepaid subscribers and Smart Bro prepaid subscribers.

The campaign is a good example of why McDonald’s has a reputation as a mobile marketing leader.

“I love to see big brands taking a swing and working directly with the carriers,” Mr. Weaver said. “At Waterfall we see tremendous success in the QSR space. The wonderful thing is that it is very easy to measure quickly and accurately,” he said.

“It’s a reflection of how McDonald’s understands the core foundations of marketing,” said Mark Beccue of Mark Beccue Consulting, Tampa, FL. “They know their audiences and markets are a mosaic and that one market strategy does not fit all.”

Mixing free SMS messaging with food purchases can be an effective way to build brand engagement and drive sales.

“People always have their phones and seek utility from them on many levels,” Mr. Weaver said. “SMS is a relatively inexpensive way to drive behavior, generate a conversation, and provide real value to the consumer.

“After a substantial list is built it will be easy for McDonalds to calculate exactly the ROI they are getting per message sent.”

Mixing free SMS messaging with food purchases will be very effective in driving upsell, or the clear proposition to the consumer. “Again, the value of mobile messaging is compelling,” Mr Beccue said.

The promotion could end up garnering big returns for McDonald’s.

“It is a great example of how valued mobile messaging, whether it is SMS or messaging apps like Viber, Facebook, WeChat, have become to consumers,” Mr. Beccue said.

“Here we see a brand using mobile data as currency, with the twist that Smart/McDonald’s are being specific about the use (SMS and Chat apps).

McDonald’s has continually tested various types of mobile advertising in the past few years to drive in-store traffic.

The restaurant chain recently worked with Kiip on a rewards-based campaign that doled out free song downloads from Amazon’s App Store.

IAds are also a staple of the brand’s mobile advertising strategy. Late last year, McDonald’s rolled out its sixth iAd campaign to promote its CBO sandwiches.

Limiting reach
Given that Smart is not the only mobile operator in the Philippines, McDonald’s latest promotion lacks the broadest reach.


Showing the value of mobile messaging to consumers.

“I am intrigued that the promotion is with a single carrier,” Mr. Beccue said. “One could speculate that Smart may view the promotion as a way to gain competitive advantages, should they continue to work with more brands in this manner and their competitors, namely, Globe do not.”

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York