McDonald's Kicks Off Latest Round Of Kung Fu Marketing
June 5, 2008
In another example of
impressively integrated worldwide marketing and timing,
McDonald's latest massive movie tie-in, with DreamWorks
Animation SKG's "Kung Fu Panda," is breaking just two
months before the kickoff of the Olympics in
Beijing--for which, of course, McDonald's is the
official restaurant/food service sponsor. From June 6
through July 3 in McDonald's restaurants in North
America, and then rolling out across the world,
McDonald's "Kung Fu Panda" Happy Meal program will treat
kids with a toy of one of eight animal characters from
the film each time they purchase a Happy Meal.
In addition to offering Kung Fu master games and related
offline activities for kids (like a new hip-hop panda
dance), online promotions tying in with the "Kung Fu
Panda Party" promotional theme will encourage kids to
learn about pandas and their environment. For instance,
the site (www.happymeal.com) will offer a "panda-cam"
enabling kids to view real pandas in their natural
All of this ties in with McDonald's support of
Conservation International, and specifically its support
of CI projects in China aimed at protecting panda
The Happy Meal campaign is being supported by a Leo
Burnett-created TV commercial (available in 23
languages) featuring two child Kung Fu experts vying for
the last Chicken McNugget left from a Happy Meal.
With all of the focus on children's nutrition and bad
press about fast food these days, McDonald's is also
making a point of emphasizing healthful elements in the
promotional Happy Meals, including fresh, peeled apple
slices served with low-fat caramel dipping sauce and
low-fat white and chocolate milk jugs served in
child-friendly, themed containers.
"You can talk all you want about the health issue, but
one thing you can't say about McDonald's is that they're
not extremely savvy marketers," comments Robert
Passikoff, president of the Brand Keys branding
consultancy. "This kind of multifaceted campaign,
including a philanthropic tie-in, doesn't just happen.
They're masters at integrated, coordinated marketing."
Interestingly, however, while some of the real-life
inspirations for the movie's characters (snow leopard,
tigress) are carnivores, the characters themselves are
not portrayed eating other animals ... even in the form
of Chicken McNuggets. "Everybody is vegetarian, even our
predatory characters--otherwise, it got too weird,"
movie co-director John Stevenson told HowStuffWorks.com.
Apparently, product placement does have its limits.
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