Friday, June 8, 2007

How Does McDonald's Spell Success?...S-H-R-E-K!

Guest author Scott Werner back again --

Forget Grimace, the Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese and Ronald McDonald, the real dollars are in cross-promotional partnerships. Just ask the execs and bean counters at McDonald's who today reported that their May promotion with the movie "Shrek the Third" helped increase U.S. same stores sales by 7.9%.

But the interesting part of McDonald's Shrek promotion isn't really the promotion itself (fast food and entertainment cross-promotion isn't new), but how McDonald's chose to execute the program. With childhood obesity, and criticism of fast food restaurants on the topic, gaining momentum over recent years, McDonald's (with maybe a little prodding from DreamWorks Animation, the studio behind Shrek) made a decision to feature healthier food items like its salads, milk, apple slices with the Happy Meal promotion. Note that Happy Meals are marketed to children between the ages of 3 and 9, and a meal with a cheeseburger, small fries and Sprite totals 670 calories, with 26 grams of fat and 4.5 grams of trans fat — the fat type that experts say is particularly dangerous.

These latest sales figures are great news on a marketing tactic that had the potential to really hurt McDonald's sales big time! Especially after last year's news that Disney Pictures decided not to renew its cross-promotion program with the famed arches, partially over the concern the company had over childhood obesity topic and the assault being forged on fast food restaurants.

Now, McDonald's didn't release sales figures of their healthier food items versus their more famous, and less healthy, alternatives. But it appears that as long as they continue to find cross-promotions that interest the consumer, McDonald's execs won't have to worry too much about losing any sleep over declining sales.

So however you feel about fast food and childhood obesity, you've got to give some kudos to the McDonald's marketing team for the smart strategy behind their marketing for the this promotion. What will they think of next?

P.S. My child, like many other American children, is fascinated by the Shrek movies and thus encouraged me to make numerous trips to McDonald's for Happy Meals. I will admit that we probably didn't order many healthy items, but I did have one happy child who collected all but one of the ten Shrek toys. (If anyone happens to have an extra boy Ogre baby, the #8 toy, I'd be happy to send you a buck or two for it!)