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McDonald?s mobile music mashup evokes US cities to drive emotional connection

McDonald?s has created a unique interactive musical experience to evoke the feeling of five different United States locations while also driving deeper engagements with mobile users in the hopes of getting them in the mood for a burger.

The Great Tastes of America promotion is running for five weeks in Britain, during which the chain will introduce a new burger each week themed around a specific U.S. city or state. To support the launch, McDonald?s has created a digital music mixing experience that enables consumers to create their own soundtracks, customize it with iconic sounds associated with each of the locations and visualize their sound.

?By encouraging customers to make their own music mixes ? McDonald's is gamifying their brand experience and convincing customers to actively engage with the brand rather than just passively seeing promotions for the Great Tastes of America event on their smartphone,? said Roy DeYoung, senior vice president of creative services for PM Digital, New York.

?Gamifying through music facilitates the customization of the experience, and because music elicits emotion, it also facilitates the possibility that customers make an emotional connection to the product or the brand,? he said. ?Additionally, mobile devices allow the right place, right time to deliver this new experience as customers are already completely dependent on their mobile phones for music.?

Mr. DeYoung is not affiliated with McDonald?s and spoke based on his experience in mobile.

Razorfish, the agency that worked with McDonald?s on the campaign, was not able to meet the press deadline.

Hamburger birthplace
The promotion celebrates the U.S. as the birthplace of the hamburger and features burgers inspired by Chicago, Nevada, Texas, New York and Memphis.

With each of the different American-themed burgers available for only one week, the promotion is designed to build awareness for each city or state featured by giving consumers a way to add iconic sounds from location featured. For example, consumers can layer in base tracks, add drum loops and effects associated with each location.

The music mixer also features a real-time music visualizer that matches shapes and color to each sound creation.

When used on mobile, the experience reacts to the rate and speed of the user?s walk, increasing or decreasing accordingly.

?Everyone loves music and everyone listens to music on their mobile devices through a growing number of services, so tapping into that behavior obviously makes sense if it?s natural for the brand and provides the consumer with some sort of currency or value,? said Harley Block, senior vice president of marketing and business development at Rokkan, New York. ?We know that a younger demographic spends more time immersed in music on mobile, so assuming those points line up, mobile brand efforts aimed at that set may want to take music into consideration more heavily.?

The first week of the promotion featured the Chicago Supreme hamburger and week two, which runs through May 13, highlights the Nevada Grande.

For week three it is the Texas BBQ, which is available from May 21 to May 27.

The final week of the promotion goes from May 28 to June 3 and features the Memphis Special.

Personalized soundtracks
With music and mobile a powerful combination for reaching youthful, digitally-savvy consumers, big brands such as McDonald?s continue to experiment with how best to leverage this convergence in a way that helps build brands.

In another new example, Pepsi has introduced Beats of the Beautiful Game, an album and companion short films in celebration of soccer. The songs are being premiered as singles on the iTunes store with the accompanying shorts available to view for free on the site as well as on the artists? YouTube or Vevo channels.

McDonald?s has a history of using music to deepen its connection with consumers and as mobile adoption continues to grow, the brand is moving some of this activity over to mobile.

?Music is a logical choice for brands in the mobile marketing efforts,? said Philip J. Ryan, global trends and foresight lead at Vivaldi Partners, New York. ?Mobile enables personal interaction between brands and consumers and music is, perhaps, one of the most personal expressions of individuality.

?As brands look to find ?segments of one? they will need to think about more than the personalized message that will most resonate with a consumers, but the personalized soundtrack that will most resonate with him or her,? he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York