For the 2015 Super Bowl football game, McDonald’s Corp. hatched an ambitious marketing plan — to give away an item related to every commercial airing during the game. The catch was that McDonald’s managers didn’t know what products were going to be advertised during the game. Some were surely going to be big-ticket items, such as automobiles, while others — like alcohol — would be illegal to give away as part of a contest.
Pulling off this feat required the company to assemble a digital newsroom where McDonald’s employees from marketing and legal teams, representatives from the company’s various advertising agencies, as well as employees from the company’s enterprise social technology provider, New York-based Sprinklr, could engage with the environment as it unfolded. McDonald’s ambitious marketing goal required real-time reactions and monitoring and analysis of social media trends, as well as on-the-spot decision making to produce the best spending decisions about which products to give away to maximize exposure cost-effectively. The project brought together employees from various departments and business partners to work together during the most expensive and high-profile advertising hours of the year in the United States. The effort was largely successful, drawing 1.2 million retweets, including some from high-profile celebrities such as Taylor Swift, and becoming a globally trending topic on Twitter.
In reflection, Lainey Garcia, manager of brand reputation and public relations at McDonald’s, noted of the effort: “I think for me, the biggest takeaway was the power of integration. You can accomplish amazing things when you have all those pieces working together collectively in a holistic way, and when you’re putting all of your resources together. I really think it’s almost what Ray Kroc, our founder, would always say, ‘None of us is as good as all of us together,’1 and I think it really brought that to light.”
To achieve this level of integration, McDonald’s had to employ multiple digital technologies and reconfigure its internal communication and operational processes, as well as its relationship with business partners. While this one-time, real-time event could be managed from a temporary digital newsroom, McDonald’s successful Super Bowl initiative wasn’t accomplished only on Super Bowl night.
1. P.S. Harris, “None of Us Is as Good as All of Us: How McDonald’s Prospers by Embracing Inclusion and Diversity” (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2009).
2. J. Maze, “McDonald’s Service Push Includes Big Digital Spending,” Nation’s Restaurant News, December 12, 2014, www.nrn.com.
3. As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Services LP, which are separate subsidiaries of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.
4. G.C. Kane, “Are You Ready for the Certainty of the Unknown?” March 10, 2015, sloanreview.mit.edu.
5. K.S. Nash, “Tech Spin-off From Spice Maker McCormick Puts CIO in the CEO Seat,” The Wall Street Journal CIO Journal, April 1, 2015, www.blogs.wsj.com.