Silent Drive-Thru: An Introvert’s Dream Come True?

Multinational fast-food chains conforming their menus to cultural tastes is as old as Pulp Fiction’s Royal Cheese. Agency Superson helped Burger King Finland take this to another level, playing off the stereotype of shy Finns. Understanding it as an experience product, Burger King applied this concept to the drive thru, nodding to the common Finnish sensibility of reticence.

The brief was to increase app use, so they reconfigured the ol’ stand-by of the drive thru, to show how fast and easy it was to order via their app.

The spot is playful and funny, placing fast-food ordering into the realm of a clandestine caper.

And it turns out, it’s not just the Finns who resent talking to the muffled voice of the drive-thru.

Why it’s hot: Nodding to local culture inherently endears customers to the brand. The sense of collective understanding, and feeling known is a powerful bonding agent.

The drive-thru model didn’t align with the value proposition of the app, wherein you could order ahead and pick-up, so rethinking the model required a relatable story to encourage users to do the same.

Source: Contagious

 

Quit Clowning Around

Burger King’s latest attack on McDonald’s is tapping into the upcoming release of the IT prequel with its new Escape the Clown campaign, an interactive campaign that targets McDonald’s customers in Germany using AR and geo-tagging. Playing on popular culture, Burger King successfully stole its rival’s customers at point of sale (kind of a big deal) and drove app downloads.

Burger King placed an AR-enabled advertisement in a film-themed magazine found in McDonald’s restaurants. Customers were prompted to download the BK app in order to scan the advertisement and access an Escape the Clown coupon for a one cent Whopper at the nearest Burger King. The app gave directions to the nearest restaurant and a countdown began, encouraging customers to leave McDonald’s restaurants (and escape the clown) immediately.

Burger King also used geo-targeting to invite McDonald’s customers to seek out the magazine and scan the app in targeted ads on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: Contagious.io

Why it’s hot:
While not a new tactic for Burger King, in fact, it’s become a bit expected, by targeting customers who are already in McDonald’s restaurants, this campaign reaches its audience at the point of purchase, which in this category would’ve been an all-is-lost moment. Burger King also gamified a discount by positioning it as a challenge (get to the nearest Burger King before the countdown times out), which added an element of urgency and excitement to the offer. Not to mention that the many app downloads it generated are now also a new data source to help inform the King of other opportunities to conquest its rival.

McDonald’s plans to bring AI voice technology to its drive-thrus

Fast food is about to get even faster. McDonald’s announced that it is buying the voice tech startup Apprente so it can automate its drive-thru menu. The Mountain View-based company specializes in building voice-based agents that can take orders in multiple languages and accents. The fast food giant has been testing Apprente’s technology in several locations and expects it will allow for “faster, simpler and more accurate order taking” at its drive-thrus.

Apprente will form a pivotal part of McD Tech Labs, a new restaurant technology group based in Silicon Valley. The Apprente team will become the group’s founding members and co-founder Itamar Arel will serve as vice-president. “McDonald’s commitment to innovation has long inspired our team. It was quite clear from our various engagements that McDonald’s is leading the industry with technology” said Itamar Arel, Ph.D., co-founder of Apprente and Vice President of McD Tech Labs. “Apprente was borne out of an opportunity to use technology to solve challenging real world problems and we’re thrilled to now apply this to creating personalized experiences for customers and crew.” The company is planning on hiring more engineers, data scientists and other advanced technology experts to build its presence in Silicon Valley.

The fast food giant say there’s potential to expand Apprente’s technology into other areas, like mobile and kiosk ordering. But while the new technology may make life easier for customers, may come at the cost of human jobs. McDonald’s self-service kiosks will be implemented across all US restaurant locations by 2020, which could reduce the need to hire as many human cashiers.

The food chain’s acquisition of Apprente is its third tech deal this year. In April it acquired Dynamic Yield, a personalized data startup, in order to customize its drive-thru menus by the weather, time of day, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items. It also bought a minority stake in Plexure, a New Zealand-based mobile app technology company.

Source: Engadget

Why It’s Hot

Paves the way for probable improvements to CX that have a long time coming for fast food. I also suspect McD is not yet in the smartest place with their customer data and these acquisitions may help keep it relevant and on top of its game.

Burger King Sweden: Meat Roulette

Burger King Sweden recently released two plant-based burgers, the Rebel Whopper and Rebel Chicken King.

To introduce the burgers, and to show customers that plant-based burgers make convincing meat substitutes, the food retailer created 50/50 Menu. Customers who order a Whopper or Crispy Chicken Burger from the 50/50 Menu could instead receive the Rebel Whopper and Rebel Chicken King. Customers can then guess if they are eating a plant or meat-based burger, and they can find out if they have guessed correctly by scanning the box using the Burger King app. There is no reward for guessing correctly, but the 50/50 Menu is cheaper.

Since the campaign (which lasts three weeks) launched on Monday, July 7th, 60% of customers have guessed correctly and 40% have been unable to tell the difference.

Why it’s Hot: 

As the conversation around plant-based meat substitutes continues to grow, Burger King’s activation successfully answers one of skeptics’ main concerns: do they actually taste good? The activation’s challenge-style approach and simple tech integration make trying plant-based burgers fun, even for those who aren’t on the plant-based bandwagon.

Source

Burger King Trolls McDonalds, Gets 1 Million App Downloads.

The Art of the Troll. #Petty

Burger King got national attention this week for offering 1-cent Whoppers to those who drove up to a McDonald’s location (and then, presumably, drove away to redeem their BK coupons). Key to the stunt was the brand’s smartphone app, which unlocked the offer when it detected users approaching within 600 feet of a McDonald’s.

The “Whopper Detour” sent customers to a rival’s doorstep, and it worked, in terms of both publicity and app downloads.

Burger King today said its app was downloaded more than 1 million times since Whopper Detour launched on Tuesday, and the app is currently No. 1 among free software in the Apple App Store. That puts Burger King’s app, for now at least, above app giants like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Amazon.

(The McDonald’s app, in case you’re curious, is currently at No. 42.)

Why It’s Hot:

Brands trolling other brands has become a sure fire way to go viral, this uses brand trolling in conjunction with location based apps to drive people to a competitor and it worked to drive sales and app downloads.

 

Source: AdWeek https://www.adweek.com/creativity/after-trolling-mcdonalds-burger-kings-app-was-downloaded-1-million-times-and-hit-no-1/ 

90 terabytes of facial recognition

China facial recognition

China is building the world’s most powerful facial recognition system with the power to identify any one of its 1.3 billion citizens within three seconds. The government states the system is being developed for security and official uses such as tracking wanted suspects and public administration and that commercial application using information sourced from the database will not be allowed under current regulations.

“[But] a policy can change due to the development of the economy and increasing demand from society,” said Chen Jiansheng, an associate professor at the department of electrical engineering at Tsinghua University and a member of the ministry’s Committee of Standardisation overseeing technical developments in police forces.

Chinese companies are already taking the commercial application of facial recognition technology to new heights. Students can now enter their university halls, travellers can board planes without using a boarding pass and diners can pay for a meal at KFC. Some other restaurants have even offered discounts to customers based on a machine that ranks their looks according to an algorithm. Customers with “beautiful” characteristics – such as symmetrical features – get better scores than those with noses that are “too big” or “too small” and those that get better scores will get cheaper meals.

More at South China Morning Post and ABS-CBN.

Why It’s Hot
Another weekly installment of balancing convenience and claims of safety with privacy and ethics. China is pushing us faster than most other countries to address this question sooner rather than later.

Swipe Up for a Burger at Your Doorstep

Ever wish you could have that beautiful burger you see on Instagram… brought to you immediately? An agency out based out of Brazil (named Africa) is deploying a new social campaign for Heinz: ‘Irresistible Posts’ where they seek to make this possible.

In Sao Paulo, Instagram users who are searching the Stories section in the early afternoon receive a targeted video of a delicious burger prepared by a local restaurant chef. At the end of the video, the chef appears onscreen and tells the user to swipe up to have this exact meal sent to them. Once the user fills out their location details, the burger is brought to their doorstep. Where does Heinz come in? It is delivered in a personalized box created by Heinz – which conveniently includes several of their condiment products.

Heinz has not announced if they plan to expand the campaign outside of Sao Paulo.

See video!

Why it’s sizzln’ hot: Not only does this activation play upon the extremely relevant #foodporn Instagram trend, but this is a strategic play for Heinz. By being the behind-the-scenes partner that helps users fulfill their cravings (and add to them with their condiments), they are becoming a more relevant and reliable brand that provide more than just the add-ons. Additionally, next time these users think back to the best burger they’ve had – they will associate Heinz with that positive, memorable, and tasty experience.

Source: PSFK

It’s Late and You’ve Got the Munchies. Lyft and Taco Bell Have an Idea.

Taco Bell has, quite literally, found a new marketing vehicle, and its name is Lyft.

The fast-food chain is beginning a venture with the ride-sharing company this week that will allow Lyft passengers to request rides that incorporate a stop at a Taco Bell drive-through between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The companies will test the option, which will appear as “Taco Mode” in the Lyft app, during the next two weeks around a Newport Beach, Calif., location, with plans to expand the program nationally next year.

It’s an attempt to tap into the trend of young people increasingly car-pooling through apps like Lyft and its larger rival Uber, particularly on nights out with friends. While Taco Bell offers delivery to customers and advertises the locations of its restaurants through the navigation app Waze, partnering with a ride-sharing company represents a new type of “experience innovation,” said Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer.

“I kind of think of this like inverse delivery — like we’re delivering you to Taco Bell,” she said in an interview. “You’re being delivered to the food as opposed to having to get in your own car and drive.”

As it stands, Lyft and Uber do not have stated policies about how drivers should handle passenger requests to swing by fast-food drive-throughs, though the question regularly pops up in online discussion forums for drivers.

“Several times I said no to food and they ask why and I explained what the last idiot did of making a mess and each time the present idiot would promise to not make a mess, spill, waste, etc. then they do it anyway!” one Uber driver wrote in an online forum.

Ms. Thalberg said her company had seen “a bunch of funny tweets” and other social media posts from hungry passengers on the topic, which got them thinking about a potential partnership with Lyft.

Taco Bell is not paying Lyft for the deal, which has been in the works for almost a year, Ms. Waters said. The companies are looking at the venture as “cocreating an experience together,” which cannot be evaluated the way one might look at traditional marketing efforts like television commercials and billboards, she said.

“Marketing today is so much about customer experience, not branding and advertising,” she said. “We’re really evaluating it from a surprise and delight for our consumer bases with a program like this and both meeting in the middle and developing it on both sides.”

Source: NY Times

Why It’s Hot

  • Uber used to be the partnership king, but perhaps their recent debacles have had brands thinking twice about their ride partnerships
  • Audience understanding  — experiences, not products — is the way to go.
  • It’s interesting to see how ride share, ride hire industry expands through partnerships and innovations to “own more of the user.”

I’ll have chicken with a side of animatronics please

To celebrate National Fried Chicken Day, Kentucky Fried Chicken is bringing founder Colonel Harland Sanders to the drive-thru experience as robot chicken-expert H.A.R.L.A.N.D. (Human Assisted Robotic Linguistic Animatronic Networked Device). H.A.R.L.A.N.D. is a state-of-the-art voice modulator system that gives drive-thru customers the experience of ordering from an animatronic Colonel Sanders head that speaks in the voice of Colonel Sanders.

The animatronic uses speech recognition, artificial intelligence technology and text-to-speech techniques to repeat whatever the drive-thru operator speaks so customers can have unique and interactive conversations with the “real Colonel Sanders”.

In short, it’s a megaphone disguised as a Colonel Sanders head. A very cool one.

Why it’s Hot:

  • Revamped the drive-thru experience, which has remained unchanged for quite a while
  • Continues the trend of Tech being the new Advertising
  • Cleverly launched during a relevant moment for the brand (Fried Chicken Day)
  • Chances are this is not a one trick pony, but a step to replacing human employees with Colonel Sanders heads

McDonald’s Refreshes ‘I’m Lovin’ It’

McDonald’s pushes global harmony hard in its new brand campaign, which refreshes the long-running “I’m lovin’ it” tagline by putting more focus on the lovin’. The spot is called “Archenemies,” and features pop-culture foes suddenly finding peace.

McDonald’s has never really leaned that hard into the idea of love— often focusing on the “I’m” and “it” parts of the line instead of the “lovin’ ” part. But the brand thinks the time is right for a shift.

“We recognize, and our customers do too, all the negativity that surrounds daily life and we are choosing to celebrate lovin’ more,” it says in a statement. “McDonald’s is in a unique position to use its scale to bring back the positivity with more uplifting content and conversations in the lovin’ spirit.”

The brand feels like it’s on to something here. The refresh will include new uniforms, new packaging, new signage in restaurants and a new focus on being more responsive in social media—which is in line with the transparency campaign it’s been running lately.

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Why It’s Hot

McDonald’s, a brand that still doesn’t allow fans to post on their Facebook timeline, is finally taking a step back and understanding the importance of transparency, authenticity and actually listening to what its consumers are saying. The fast-food chain is moving from a philosophy of billion-served to billion-heard,  in order to evolve with customers. As the brand is experiencing a difficult time – declines in sales and facing a new type of more ecologically minded customer – can this brand transformation be its saving grace? It sounds like the brand has a few tricks up its sleeve, especially with a return to the Super Bowl with a 60-second commercial that “will reveal a big idea.” Only time will tell if the fast food chain can turn “lovin'” into sales.

McDonald’s Has a New Mascot

As if Ronald McDonald wasn’t scary enough, McDonald’s introduced it’s new mascot this past Monday and it’s nothing short of terrifying (see below). And although McDonald’s says “Happy” was created to bring “fun and excitement” to its children’s meals, social media thinks otherwise.

Happy

We’re all aware how ridiculous the internet can be, and this week the people didn’t fail to bring the hilarity. From comments like “It’s the meal that eats you” and “I didn’t want to sleep tonight anyways, it’s cool,” it’s quite clear McDonald’s fell short in their approach.

Capture

However, in the midst of people hating on the animated red Happy Meal box, with its rows of large white teeth and beady eyes, McDonald’s is set to introduce Happy to the world. McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb said, “Social media is a great place to have a conversation and express an opinion, but not all comments reflect the broader view.”

Only time will tell if Happy bids well with McDonald’s global customer base. For now, though, have at it internet!

McDonald’s Turns Fries’ Packaging into Virtual Reality Soccer Field

The World Cup is almost upon us, and official sponsor McDonald’s is launching a huge global effort that features new fry boxes that allow you to play and an augmented-reality app called McDonald’s Gol!

Beginning May 26, the chain will — for the first time — change its medium and large fry boxes globally for the promotion, offering 12 different World-Cup-themed designs featuring work from artists commissioned from around the world. The fry boxes will also serve as the entry point for an augmented-reality game on the app.

The app essentially turns the packaging into a virtual reality soccer field, where players try to flick a ball into the fry box, which serves as a goal. The game also uses other real-world objects in view as a way to bounce the ball off them to avoid increasingly difficult obstacles. Points are scored by bouncing off or moving the ball around the obstacles. Points are tallied by country, and players can share their scores via social media.

App:

First promo commercial:

Why it’s HOT:

Seeing one of the biggest and most recognizable brands embrace the World Cup by updating their packaging to include an interactive augmented reality game is VERY HOT. Especially knowing that this is the first time in McDonald’s history that they’ve changed their french fries packaging makes it even more special. As a consumer, I’m going to go to McDonald’s and try out this game on my own smartphone! As far as McDonald’s is concerned, this is exactly what they wanted.