Working with our partner Moroch, one of the most successful advertising, branding and marketing agencies in the country, Cookerly was tapped to drive engagement for three McDonald’s “Taste Kitchens” in Atlanta. The kitchens offered a broad range of consumers the opportunity to try the Mac Jr., a brand new compact, hand-held version of the iconic Big Mac sandwich intended to be eaten on-the-go.
The three restaurants, which transformed into Taste Kitchens for only one day, offered the new sandwich for free, along with the opportunity to purchase items from a limited menu at discounted prices. This way, the focus could be on the star of the show—the new Mac. Jr. We also handed out a limited supply of bottles of the iconic restaurant’s special sauce to the media, bloggers and customers.
What was in our “secret sauce” that led to a successful Mac Jr. day?
A comprehensive PR plan that combined paid, owned and earned digital, social and traditional channels. To fill the Taste Kitchens with customers excited about trying the new Mac Jr.— at events that lasted from 10:30 a.m. until 7 p.m.— we leveraged a variety of channels including media relationships, bloggers, social networks, websites, radio sponsors, email blasts, student ambassadors, small business owners and community leaders.
Grassroots efforts paid off. To raise enthusiasm leading up to our events, we canvassed neighborhoods located near the Taste Kitchens. This enabled us to share news about the free Mac Jr. offer with local business owners, students and civic leaders. These individuals appreciated the advance notice and used the opportunity to invite their teams/friends to the restaurants for a group meal. While the grassroots approach doesn’t always align with product launches, it was an important dynamic in this effort because of the restaurants’ community presence and the owners’ standings in these neighborhoods.
Relationship building was critical to filling the Taste Kitchens on launch day. It is important to always engage in relationship building—so that we can leverage our relationships when we need them most. Our long-standing contacts were more than happy to spread the word about the free Mac Jr. These included influential community leaders with robust email networks that reached thousands of people, students and high traffic websites. Media and bloggers were also willing to taste test and post accolades about the new sandwich while sharing news about the day. At one location, we secured a much-deserved proclamation for a store owner for his outstanding community service. Council members who presented the proclamation alerted the community in advance about the recognition, which helped generate even more excitement about the event. The store overflowed with folks from the community who celebrated this store owner and had a chance to be some of the first to try the new Mac Jr.
Steady outreach before and during the event kept the crowds flowing at all the Taste Kitchens. When hosting an event that lasts all day, it is critical to have a strategy that has staying power. We scheduled groups, used student ambassadors to encourage college students to come after class and had media and radio stations remind people to drop by at lunch, early afternoon or during the dinner hour.
Entertainment kept the customers engaged, excited and focused on fun. In addition to trying the new Mac Jr., some customers danced to live music provided by radio stations, engaged on social media, socialized and invited others to come by. The day was filled with high energy, music and employees who obviously enjoyed serving customers the brand new Mac Jr.
Don’t take the special sauce for granted. Launching a product with a famous name behind it should never be taken for granted. The Taste Kitchens concept and the free offer were successful because of the strategies, planning and hard work to leverage all available communication channels.
Results matter. Thousands of consumers sampled the Mac Jr. and millions saw and heard about it on television, radio, online and in newspapers through earned media generated during the day of the Taste Kitchens.
The new Mac Jr. is now on the menu at stores across the country. Like the sandwich itself, a new product marketing campaign takes just the right combination of ingredients.