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    McDonald’s stakes out virtual summer camp experience in mobile app

    • McDonald’s next month is bringing a virtual camp experience that features a variety of deals, menu hacks and other programming exclusively to its mobile app, according to a company blog post.
    • Camp McDonald’s kicks off July 5 with a drop of a pool float modeled on brand mascot Grimace that can be accessed with a $1 minimum purchase. Every day for the rest of the month is tied to a specific promotion, with Thursdays dedicated to additional merchandise releases and Sundays carved out for performances from musical acts like Blackbear, Omar Apollo, Bibi and headliner Kid Cudi.
    • McDonald’s next week will begin airing an ad to show off what Camp McDonald’s has in store for visitors. The brand is attempting to unify a number of tactics that have proved popular with consumers, including artist collaborations, while homing in on mobile channels that have become vital during the pandemic.

    McDonald’s virtual camp experience is another indication that the fast-food chain views its mobile app as a linchpin to winning the hearts of Gen Z. The 27-day digital effort, which is billed as the first of its kind, marks an expansion of strategies that the brand has successfully deployed in the past. It also falls under a larger Accelerating the Arches growth plan that prioritizes channels like delivery and digital.

    Two years ago, McDonald’s introduced a Famous Orders platform that turned the preferred meals of celebrities into menu promotions. The concept, which helped bolster sales and mobile activity during the pandemic, features tie-ins like special merchandise and content plays. A heavily marketed partnership with K-pop group BTS last year was supported by dynamic in-app content and a capsule collection of apparel, for example.

    Camp McDonald’s further broadens the scope of the idea beyond a single artist to instead serve as a sort of running music festival, with weekly in-app performances that can be viewed with a $1 minimum purchase. Other promotions on the lineup center on menu hacks — custom orders like an Apple Pie McFlurry and a McFlurry sandwich — and more traditional deals like buy-one, get-one-free offers. McDonald’s has additionally collaborated with Free & Easy, Innisfree and Market on merchandise drops timed for each Thursday in July.

    The approach could sustain engagement during the quieter summer period, when kids are off from school and might be looking for a fun distraction.

    “McDonald’s is one of the world’s most democratized brands, so we’re not only looking to participate in culture, but also find ways to create it,” said Tariq Hassan, McDonald’s USA’s chief marketing and digital customer experience officer, in a statement. Hassan joined the burger giant last fall after a stint as CMO of Petco. His comments on building culture mirror how other fast-food brands are attempting to turn their marketing into broader conversation-starters.

    “No matter what camp meant to you growing up, this campaign allows you to attend Camp McDonald’s without packing a bag, and in a way that seamlessly marries culture and commerce,” Hassan added.

    Virtual concerts and experiences took hold earlier in the pandemic, when live venues shuttered due to COVID-19 restrictions, but appear to be here to stay as brands and platforms push the idea of the metaverse. Pop singer Charli XCX, who’s currently on a live tour, recently stopped in on the Roblox gaming platform for a concert that was sponsored by Samsung.

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