McDonald's is saturating metro New York with social media marketing this summer. A "Toast Your Town" campaign running for the next three months will use Foursquare, Twitter, and Facebook, as well as display ads and traditional media.
The Foursquare element kicks off today, as geo-social users in five NYC boroughs and four metro communities in New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York will compete - locale vs. locale - from now until Labor Day. The borough or locale that collectively records the most check-ins at McDonald's locations for the next two weeks will be offered a complimentary McCafe beverage on July 7. The same 14-day challenge will be repeated two more times, with the winning borough/locale getting a free McCafe drink on Aug. 8 and Sept. 1. Consumers will have to check in on those days to redeem the offer.
Jennifer Nagy, marketing manager for McDonald's New York tri-state region, said point-of-sale signage pushing the Foursquare effort has been distributed to the fast-food company's 621 stores in the area. "We think people generally have hometown pride," she told ClickZ News. "But in larger markets like this, we've found that people have even a greater allegiance to [exactly] where they live."
Nagy said her regional office for the quick-serve brand began ramping up its commitment to social media channels in 2010. A "Toast Your Town" microsite/landing page serves as a hub for the current campaign's Foursquare, Twitter, and Facebook pushes. It also entails live streaming video where aspiring comedians like Jermaine Fowler (pictured) for two hours at midday riff on random new tweets, while they encourage watchers to "post a toast," or tweet a favorable message about their locale.
"Social media is becoming such a normal part of everyday life," Nagy said. "We are investing more in digital and social media."
During the last few weeks, Nagy's team has experimented with purchasing Promoted Accounts ads ("Who to follow") on Twitter, attracting 6,100 followers so far. According to TwitterCounter.com, the brand's handle, @McDNYTriState, had just 726 followers on May 15.
"Part of it is to build an audience," she said, "and part of it is to help them understand the [current] offer. It helps make it more top of mind."
Working with public relations and marketing agency MWW Group, she said her team transmits a message via Twitter and Facebook two or three times a day. Over the summer, they will occasionally post and tweet coupons for free McCafe beverages.
While the integrated campaign includes online display ads, radio promos, outdoor billboards and subway/train signage around the metropolis, Nagy said, social lies at the heart of the initiative.
"Twitter and Foursquare are relevant and proving their value," she said. "We want the brand involved in those conversations."
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.