I got to hear Neil Golden, CMO of McDonald’s USA, review with us their strategy of concentrating on their menu and creating products based on customer’s need into what he called “the strongest turnaround in business history.” Neil was another of the top-notched speakers that PMA offered us this year at their Annual Integrated Marketing Conference held in Chicago last week.
Neil also told us that McDonald’s isn’t doing "Promotions" anymore. Wait a minute, what was that? Instead he said they are concentrating on PROMOTION that adds attention and has relevance to their long-term brands. He went through and mentioned a few of the "Promotion" programs that they’ve been focused on.
The Lost Ring is a new program aimed at promoting the McDonald’s brand and their partnership with the International Olympic Committee. It’s an alternative reality game (ARG) which is sponsored by both in anticipation of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The game was officially launched last month after some buzz was first created online through a viral marketing push that didn’t have the sponsors’ names associated with it. Neil said that the goal of the promotion is to tap into the existing equity McDonald’s has with the Olympics as well as the whole social networking trend in order to join forces online globally.
The game is built around the fictional concept that more than 2,000 years ago an Olympic sport was lost to history and that now, five Olympic-caliber athletes have turned up in corn fields around the world, amnesiac but sure they’ve been tasked with some great mission.
To play the game you have to visit The Lost Ring.com where you first watch a trailer that’s been created at the same high quality of most theatrical film releases. Neil told us that 1.5 million people have viewed the video to date and they currently have over 200,000 active gamers coming from all 119 countries that McDonald’s does business in.
What I didn’t realize is that Jane McGonigal is behind the creation of this game. Jane describes herself as a game designer, a games researcher, and a future forecaster. Her bio on her blog, Avant Game, says "I make games that give a damn". Check out her blog post here where you can learn much more about Jane, how to play this game as well as how it came about.
Anyhow, I first met Jane last year while attending the Interactive Promotions summit that ePrize sponsored in Las Vegas. Jane was one of the keynote speakers and spoke about her game philosophy and the World Without Oil game she was working on then. It was a very intriguing presentation which I wrote a post here about her as well as the rest of the conference.
Neil also did tell us that McDonald’s Monopoly Game will indeed be back this fall and they continue to enhance its relevance to the brand each year and bring in some new partners. Last year they showcased the previous year’s winner in order to create awareness that people do actually win these games. We’ll have to wait on what new enhancements they’ll add to this year’s interactive promotion.
Back to The Lost Ring, now knowing that Jane is behind this game, I’m very eager to find the time to play it. If anyone has experienced the game please let us know if "You’re Lovin it" or not. You’re welcome to leave any of your thoughts in the comments section here. Also if you’re interested, here’s a Wiki that’s been created that you can get some additional pointers on as well.