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How McDonald’s Hijacked the Gaming Multiverse


Leo Burnett’s Unbranded Menu campaign taps into the over 40 million strong gaming community in Philippines  

How McDonald’s Hijacked the Gaming Multiverse

Thanks to popular gaming personality Alodia Gosiengfiao, Leo Burnett Philippines maximised untapped branding opportunities in the gaming multiverse. The many food items found within that multiverse are McDonald’s lookalikes, and it gave the agency the idea to hack this unbranded space.


It all started when Alodia found a Big Mac-lookalike inside Grand Theft Auto V and posted it. She challenged her eight million followers to search for similar Big Mac-lookalikes and the hunt took off when streamers and gamers started tagging #ThisIsMcDonalds.


“We’ve been seeing these McDonald’s food-alikes in games for some time. Some members of our team are avid gamers and they’ve been spotting McDonald’s burgers, fries, nuggets, sundaes and more in several games already. The brand is so iconic that gaming titles have been copying it for so long. 


“We truly believe this idea is something only McDonald’s could launch because its menu is universally recognisable, even in the gaming multiverse. There is so much brand love and recognition for McDonald’s and having Alodia seeing the same things was key in making this truth known to her millions of followers and other gamers,” says Raoul Panes, CCO at Publicis Groupe Philippines and Leo Burnett Manila.


 LBB finds out more from Raoul and Oliver Rabatan, CMO at McDonald’s Philippines. 

LBB> How did you go on to develop the idea and hack this unbranded space of McDonald’s lookalikes?  

Raoul> We relied on typical gamer behaviour – the habit of screen-grabbing images in games for posterity or bragging rights. So gamers were encouraged to screengrab their finds and brand them #ThisIsMcDonalds. Engaging with the gamers immediately was key. So we reacted to the screengrab posts with bespoke responses in real-time.



LBB> What kind of content assets were created for the McDonald’s hunt? 

Raoul> The customised responses were key. Our team was creating, in real time, response artwork with actual McDonald’s products which coincided with the gamers’ screengrabs of virtual food. The gamers were then rewarded with McDonald’s products through McDelivery. So, their virtual food finds became real.



LBB> What was the process involved in engaging with the gaming community?

Raoul> Social listening was critical in spotting gamers’ screen grabs (which were shared on influencers’ socials, not McDonald’s). The real challenge (and there was zero to little tech involved in this) was in responding to these in real-time. This was made possible by a team well-versed in gaming.


LBB> In terms of brand positioning, how will the target audience of gamers align with McDonald’s marketing strategy in Philippines?

Oliver> More than a matter of consumer audience, it’s about consumer culture. Gaming is no longer just subculture, it IS modern culture – and McDonald’s definitely wants to be part of that. The challenge is how to engage in this continuously evolving playground, hopefully in a way that is not only consistent with who we are as a brand, but also mindful of the values and behaviours of the consumers in this space. This is what we tried to do with Unbranded Menu.



LBB> What kind of results have been achieved so far with social media influence?

Oliver> Tasty results so far - 140% increase in brand engagement and 108% increase in brand mentions.  


LBB> What key elements were vital in the campaign’s success? What are your takeaways from it?

Raoul> This campaign was really about unearthing two things that have been there all along.  First, the McDonald’s menu look-alikes, which are present in virtual worlds. And second, the real gamer behaviour of screen grabbing. Everything else around it was really just a matter of nudging gamers to find what we found (in their own language), staking our claim on virtual food-alikes in a way that only McDonald’s can.


LBB> In what ways did this campaign raise the bar for executing a creative metaverse campaign? 

Raoul> In contrast to typical metaverse work, it really just relied on its simplicity. No glitzy tech. It was just about staking our claim on virtual food that’s already out there in so many gaming titles. Screengrabs and a simple hashtag made for a powerful sponsorship hack.



LBB> This campaign was pivotal in establishing an emotive link between gaming and food. How can it be leveraged for future campaigns?

Raoul> The virtual world continues to close the gap with the real world. Look at how real some games have become. Deepfakes are also blurring the line with reality. And who knows what’s next? So tech can be scary and exciting at the same time. 

Brands will continue to market in these environments. Trying to be as embedded as possible. Most will go with the flow and choose from (expensive) options laid out to them. The smarter brands will find ways to be creative and stand out. And these inventive ways, by their very nature, will be hard to predict – so I won’t. But I look forward to seeing and perhaps experiencing them!




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Categories: Convenience, Food

Leo Burnett Malaysia, Tue, 31 Jan 2023 08:37:52 GMT