McDonald’s is marking the second year of its NFL league sponsorship with a trio of promotions timed to coincide with the start of the football season. In its first year returning as a league sponsor after a 15-year hiatus, McDonald’s scored well in SportsBusiness Journal's annual NFL sponsor awareness survey. For the first time in five years, more NFL fans correctly identified McDonald’s as the league’s QSR rightsholder. Fans incorrectly identified Subway as the NFL's official QSR in the survey every year since '09. Accordingly, McDonald’s opening-month NFL blitz is larger and portends an expanded effort across a variety of core products, including Chicken McNuggets, French fries, soft drinks, Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, Extra Value Meals and McCafe beverages. Last year’s NFL effort for the fast feeder focused on “Mighty Wings," a temporary menu offering. “We’re looking at this as a season-long opportunity, and a way to engage our customers for the entire season (McDonald’s sponsors balloting for the season-ending Pro Bowl) as opposed to last year, when it was more of an event," said McDonald's Global Marketing Officer Dean Barrett, who added that a return to the ranks of Super Bowl advertisers was uncertain as of yet. McDonald’s early-season NFL promo activity encompasses a photo contest, a tie-in with the latest "Madden" videogame, and packaging with QR codes that unlock exclusive NFL content. The trio of promos will see NFL indicia splashed across more than 180 million fry boxes and more than 120 million soft drink cups. Local team sponsorships have increased to 15, up from 11 last season.
EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY: In the QSR’s Tailgate Photo sweepstakes, fans are being asked to post photos via Twitter or Instagram, or with a Vine video displaying “their passion for the NFL and McDonald’s food." Those doing so will be entered in a contest offering the grand prize of having a mobile McDonald's for up to 200 people in their hometown. Weekly prizes will include $100 gift cards to NFLShop.com and subscriptions to NFL Now Plus. The "Madden" NFL tie-in is a "Pick The Play" sweepstakes, through which fans enter by QR code. They are taken to a "Madden" clip in which they can guess the play's outcome. The grand prize is a trip for two to Super Bowl XLIX and a tricked-out game room. A Happy Meal tie-in offers NFL figurines. McDonald's, which shares NFL QSR rights with Papa John's, is leveraging its lead sponsorship of NFL Now with QR codes on NFL-themed 21-ounce soft drink cups, which unlock exclusive content on the OTT network. Support for the promos include dedicated TV ads with a tailgating theme, along with radio, digital and POS. Looking to encourage purchase of McDonald's food for "tailgating anywhere," select markets will sell 20-piece McNugget packs for the discounted price of $5, along with various "bundle packs."
By Terry Lefton