What we can learn from McDonald’s Marketing Happy Meals

To drown out the raucous of my three rowdy kids in the backseat I turned the radio up as I drove them to school this morning. The peak hour traffic meant the drive was a crawl so I focused my listening to the music coming from the dashboard in an effort to ignore the barrage of ‘stop touching me’s and ‘that’s my Pokemon card’s emanating from behind me.

When I heard the familiar ‘dah dah dah di dah’ tune emanate from my car radio and I knew the next ad was going to be for McDonald’s. To my surprise it was a Happy Meal promotion with a twist. With every Happy Meal you could get a free McCafe coffee. Really?

As a mother of three young boys, caffeine and free places to release the animals *ahem* delightful children is a language that rings music in my ears (yes probably way too much sharing but alas…). The thought of feeding the kids, throwing them into a free play area while I gratefully and slowly savour my coffee in peace is the promise of a little slice to heaven on Earth – if only for a moment. And I know I’m not alone.

In fact I’d hedge my bets that the words ‘Happy Meal’ and ‘Free Coffee’ joined in one sentence is for many Mums a chance for a well-earned rest, fed, happy kids and an opportunity to recoup and regather for a minute or two.

So let’s take a moment to think about Macca’s latest promotion to see why it’s a good example of simple-yet-clever marketing.

Happy meal and coffee promotion

The Happy Meal itself is a well-branded Macca’s product loved by most kids who’ve tried them. Even if the kids don’t like the food, the anticipation of the toy that lies within is often the driving force for pestering their parents to buy them time and time again.

Whilst one of the marketing tactics for Happy Meals is arguably the pestering aspect of kids wanting to get a toy with their meal, this particular campaign probably relies less on pestering and more on need.

In this campaign Macca’s have clearly defined a very specific target audience and focused on a global need within that target audience. What audience? and what need? I hear you ask. Good questions.

The target audience – tired and time poor mums with young children.

The need – a place to occupy the kids, fill their bellies and the all important – caffeine to help our sleep deprived mums get through their day.

Couple this with great timing seeing as the promotion is just in time for Mother’s day here in Australia when most people are starting to think about how wonderful their mums are. Oh and their advertising (well the one I heard today) was right at school drop off time when Mums (many like myself) are likely to be listening to the radio in an effort to drown out background white noise from the kids.

Targeting a specific audience, defining and addressing a specific need and appropriately timing your promotion are all key aspects of a clever marketing campaign. Whilst McDonald’s is a well known brand with a big marketing budget, I’d have to argue that for small business you actually don’t need a big budget to nail these key marketing factors. All it takes is a little thought, a little strategy, a dose of creativity….. and for some like myself, a little caffeine certainly won’t go astray.

What do you think of Macca’s latest marketing campaign?


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