Shawn Lim
Nov 10, 2022

'If you don't get it, don't get into it': McDonald's Asia CMO on targeting gamers

GAME CHANGERS 2022: Emerging sectors like gaming are increasingly complicated as they evolve, and brand adoption can be tricky. Eugene Lee explains how the brand is prioritising these new channels and methods while aligning with its business objectives.

'If you don't get it, don't get into it': McDonald's Asia CMO on targeting gamers

At Campaign’s Game Changers 2022 in Singapore yesterday, Eugene Lee, regional chief marketing officer for Asia, McDonald's shared the fast-food giant’s approach to gaming. 

Here are some key takeaways from his session:

Gaming platforms that McDonald’s wants to be on

“We don’t think of platforms anymore as that is an ancient way of thinking. [Instead, we want to] align to the gaming titles we want to go after. [We look at] the titles with the right target audience for us, and secondly, whether that title is a good brand for McDonald's. We have to stay away from very violent titles for obvious reasons. So it could be a football game, which is mostly played on consoles, then go after that audience.”

McDonald’s approach to gaming campaigns

“One of the [best pieces of] advice that I can give to marketers in the room is that if you don't get it, don't get into it. That is critical because gamers can, pardon my French, smell your bullshit from a mile away. You don't want to get in there and just place an ad to try to make a quick buck from them. I always say that gamers today are like skateboarders from 20 years ago when the skateboarding culture came up. Nike tried to penetrate that segment a long time ago, and they failed miserably because they were not authentic when they were going into it; it could be seen as a threat by the skateboarders.”

On integrating a brand seamlessly with a gaming livestream or tournament

"First of all, you have to go backwards and see whether that brand fit will be there. [What you should not do] is [look at] the next big tournament that is going to be happening locally [and jump on that bandwagon]. [You have to ask yourself]: Do I have the right brand fit to go after this particular product or thing? You have to find a way to link your brand with the livestream or tournament. We are very fortunate that with McDelivery, it's pretty easy to order burgers and fries [to eat] when gaming. We saw a natural fit, a sort of coming together with the free delivery service. For example, we did not take McCafe and try to link that with gamers.”

How McDonald’s is working with gaming creators

“We love working with creators because everyone brings their authentic customer and fan base. They will create content that is very different from bespoke content. Instead of shooting a TV commercial, we want them to do their own thing on their platform. If we have a new burger launch, they will figure out the best way to tell that to their audience. Creators are not hard to work with if you give them liberties and trust them. [You should not] try to curate their actions and [let them be] as authentic as possible. I watch many YouTube videos, and when you look at some of the videos, there is a word from their sponsors. Some sponsors do well, but you can see some [videos where the] brand is sort of forcing [the creators] to say certain things, and it becomes very inauthentic.”

Getting ROI from gaming 

“That is a really tough question to answer and I don't have an answer for it. In terms of the ROI behind it, if you think about social media, 10 years ago, when we started advertising on Facebook, no one in this room could answer what ROI was back then as well. But we still went into it with the understanding that it is the platform that millennials were engaging with. It is the same with gaming today. For example, the easiest way to measure ROI is to have a component tied to it, [like allowing consumers to order] something with a coupon code and then you measure the number of customers that are using those coupons. What we do on our end is we have a return on marketing spend brand studies that we do on an annual basis, [where we will] be able to see which channels are working for us.”

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