McDonald’s ‘tech-forward’ Lunar New Year push features AI-powered ad

    • McDonald’s has teamed with digital content creator Karen X Cheng to launch an interactive campaign around Lunar New Year, according to a press release. 
    • Central to the campaign, created by IW Group, is a 30-second ad spot that is one of the first to incorporate neural radiance fields (NeRF) technology which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create a 3D scene. 
    • McDonald’s seeks to remain at the intersection of innovation and culture with the tech-forward effort. The campaign also includes an augmented reality (AR) filter on Instagram and a metaverse experience hosted on Spatial that is accessible through any connected device.

    For Lunar New Year, McDonald’s has teamed with Karen X Cheng, a leading digital content creator whose work utilizes AI and AR and often goes viral, for a campaign that spans several cutting edge technologies. The fast food giant hopes the “tech-forward” effort will celebrate the holiday and help uplift the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community, according to Elizabeth Campbell, McDonald’s senior director of cultural engagement strategy.

    “We know our fans live at the intersection of innovation and culture and that’s where McDonald’s needs to meet them,” Campbell said in a press release.

    The 30-second ad spot is inspired by Cheng’s childhood memories of the holiday and features a QR code call-to-action that leads to other campaign elements. The ad’s use of NeRF technology comes as AI begins to emerge as a key technology for marketers. Ryan Reynolds’ Mint Mobile this week released an ad that was partially scripted using the conversational AI model ChatGPT, software that has quickly gained traction in the tech and marketing worlds.

    Along with the ad, McDonald’s is returning to the metaverse to celebrate Lunar New Year, as it did last year in what it billed as its first cross-media collaboration. This year’s activation imagines the future of the holiday, with 3D sculptures of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. The brand will also host special events in the digital space, including a Year of the Rabbit celebration on Jan. 25 and an evening with Cheng — in avatar form — on Feb. 2.

    Rounding out the campaign is an AR filter on Instagram that uses a 3D illusion to transition from the Year of the Tiger to the Year of the Rabbit. Together, the AI-powered ad, metaverse experience and AR filter continue McDonald’s utilization of digital experiences to celebrate Lunar New Year.


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