- McDonald's is promoting the national rollout of its mobile order and pay service with a sweepstakes around winning free food for life. U.S. customers can download the McDonald's app and place an order each day through Aug. 24 for a chance to win a McGold Card, which guarantees two free meals a week for 50 years, according to an announcement.
- The sweepstakes marks the first time McDonald's has given away a McGold Card to a lucky customer in a sweepstakes. The burger chain first gave a McGold Card to the mayor of St. Louis in 1965, and since then, the chain has handed out a small number of the cards to notable figures like the governor of Michigan and the king of Sweden.
- The winner of the McGold Card also will receive a customized 24-karat golden phone case to flaunt their membership of the exclusive group of cardholders. McDonald's will announce a winner on Aug. 24.
McDonald's, in the past couple of years, has gradually expanded the availability of its mobile ordering service, and the McGold Card promotion indicates that the burger chain is ready to make a bigger push to get diners to use the app to place and pay for orders on the go. CEO Steve Easterbrook in May said customer adoption of its mobile app was "pretty low" and that the company planned to improve the user experience by training employees and making the technology more reliable for customers of its more than 20,000 U.S. restaurants that accept mobile orders. Easterbrook said that of those that did use the app to place orders, the app has spurred the biggest boost in curbside pickup.
Mobile ordering requires that quick-service restaurants tweak their operations so that orders placed by smartphone don't interfere with serving in-store customers and lead to frustration by customers and employees, as McDonald's and other restaurants have found. Chains like Starbucks and Chipotle have similarly had to manage behind-the-counter operational changes demanded by the growing adoption of mobile ordering. McDonald's last year had its biggest mobile misstep when its app crashed during a free ice cream offer to celebrate National Ice Cream Day, causing customers to take to social media to air their frustrations and ding McDonald's reputation.
To improve its mobile and tech-related capabilities, McDonald's also has expanded its delivery options since partnering with Uber Eats a year ago. The burger chain also plans to add self-service kiosks and mobile order technology to 1,000 restaurants every three months for the next two years. The installation of self-ordering kiosks is part of the global chain's broader "Experience of the Future" concept that includes menu innovations that it hopes will appeal to younger, more health-conscious consumers. Most recently, McDonald's opened a high-tech flagship restaurant in Chicago, Illinois, that was designed with modern, environmentally friendly features and a number of tech-focused consumer experiences.