McDonald’s Stakes Out Virtual Summer Camp In Mobile App


McDonald’s virtual camp experience is another indication that the fast-food chain views its mobile app as a linchpin to winning the hearts of Gen Z.

The 27-day digital effort, which is billed as the first of its kind, marks an expansion of strategies that the brand has successfully deployed in the past. It also falls under a larger Accelerating the Arches growth plan that prioritizes channels like delivery and digital.

Two years ago, McDonald’s introduced a Famous Orders platform that turned the preferred meals of celebrities into menu promotions. The concept, which helped bolster sales and mobile activity during the pandemic, features tie-ins like special merchandise and content plays. A heavily marketed partnership with K-pop group BTS last year was supported by dynamic in-app content and a capsule collection of apparel, for example.

Camp McDonald’s further broadens the scope of the idea beyond a single artist to instead serve as a sort of running music festival, with weekly in-app performances that can be viewed with a $1 minimum purchase. Other promotions on the lineup center on menu hacks — custom orders like an Apple Pie McFlurry and a McFlurry sandwich — and more traditional deals like buy-one, get-one-free offers. McDonald’s has additionally collaborated with Free & Easy, Innisfree and Market on merchandise drop timed for each Thursday in July.

The approach could sustain engagement during the quieter summer when kids are off from school and might be looking for a fun distraction.

“McDonald’s is one of the world’s most democratized brands, so we’re not only looking to participate in culture but also find ways to create it,” said Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s USA’s chief marketing and digital customer experience officer, in a statement. Hassan joined the burger giant last fall after a stint as CMO of Petco. His comments on building culture mirror how other fast-food brands attempt to turn their marketing into broader conversation-starters.

“No matter what camp meant to you growing up, this campaign allows you to attend Camp McDonald’s without packing a bag and in a way that seamlessly marries culture and commerce,” Hassan added.

Virtual concerts and experiences took hold earlier in the pandemic when live venues shuttered due to COVID-19 restrictions but appear to be here to stay as brands and platforms push the idea of the metaverse. Pop singer Charli XCX, currently on a live tour, recently stopped in on the Roblox gaming platform for a Samsung-sponsored concert.