McDonald’s wants local events to give content marketing more meaning

McDonald’s knows it is playing catch-up in the content marketing race but believes sponsoring local events could help give it the meaningful edge needed to entice younger diners into stores on the scale its global sponsorships have failed to do in recent years.

Pressure is mounting on McDonald’s to modernise its brand. Poor sales and the growth of trendier rivals, has left the business in a precarious position that is forcing it to look outward for inspiration on how to return to former glories.In a packed out conference hall during the SxSW conference, McDonald’s gave audiences a glimpse of how it plans to arrest its decline and make its marketing feel relevant again.

Three hopefuls were chosen to present their answer to the company’s “digital mission”, each one an idea it felt reflected an admission that brands have to co-create content with communities and can no longer fully be in control. One platform, called Tongal, offered to crowdsource creative high quality videos from tens of thousands of creatives, whileReviewPush wanted to make online reviews for the business easier. The winner though shaped a proposition that was more immediately tangible for the business.

HelloSponsor staked its presentation on the promise to modernise event sponsorship, an area McDonald’s has been involved in at a global level for years with the likes of the World Cup and the Olympic Games. Brands know the value of local activations but for those on the scale of McDonald’s it can prove a tough strategy to execute logistically and in a way that provides return on investment.

For HelloSponsor, these issues are a thing of the past. The start-up, which counts Epson among its early clients, has built an end-to-end solution that lets brands discover, manage and measure local sponsorship opportunities at scale. The business does already sponsor local events such as sports clubs and so is looking for a way to do this at scale and in a more coordinated manner.

It said McDonald’s could conceivably use the platform to pull in all related media around an event, from print to social media posts, to then share the content at a local, franchisee level rather than at a global level. These activations could then be measured using an ever-expanding metrics toolkit that would look at how many shares the content got online or how many promotional items were handed out.

HelloSponsor rammed home the benefit by stating that there amultitude of events such as festivals and cooking contestshappening in the US alone, where thousands of people attend but are unable to secure a sponsor. Effectively, it would give McDonald’s a middle man to connect to local events it wants to sponsor that would cover everything, from activation to contract negotiations of sponsorships.

The business will work with McDonald’s to see whether it can translate over its services. McDonald’s, while full of support during the pitch, did have reservations when it came to securing consent to use peoples’ social media posts in wider marketing activity.

Any change to the way the company approaches sponsorships would be part of the wider turnaround story at the business. Aggressive changes have been made over the last 12 months to enhance perceptions of the brand, which has yet to turn into any noticeable sales upturn. It is a trend McDonald’s will be hoping soon show signs of improvement following the appointment of former brand chief Stephen Easterbrook as its new chief executive at the start of the month.

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