McDonald’s Aims to Mobilize the Late Night Crew

McDonalds may not be the first place people think of when they hear “late night haunt,” but the ubiquitous burger joint aims to be just that, and it’s hoping mobile coupons can help make it happen. In an effort to spur more foot traffic during the typically slower wee hours, the company has launched a direct response mobile coupon campaign enabled by mobile marketing outfit Enpocket. Starting today as part of the ongoing campaign, people in the New York Metro area can opt-in to receive a “McD L8 Nite Deal” on Iced Coffee, good between 9pm and 4am.

McDonald’s is promoting the regional opt-in campaign, developed by Havas’s Media Planning Group, on its McDonald’ site. It’s also targeting ads encouraging opt-ins by age and location through mobile Internet banners on Mobile, mobile directory Go2 and McDonald’s mobile TXT Lounge. The text messages are sent to users during evening hours. Offers are valid for a week at approximately 1,000 of the restaurant’s locations in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Last week’s offer pushed the eatery’s new Snack Wrap item.

“The demographic who uses Mobile tend to be young urbanites who would be going into McDonald’s late at night,” said Enpocket director of marketing Diana LaGattuta. She explained that most text campaigns are aimed at younger age groups. “It really is the sort of low hanging fruit at this point because it’s the younger consumers who are doing more with the data on their phones,” she continued. Enpocket works with wireless carriers Airtel, Alltel, Cingular, Sprint and Vodafone.

The evasive 18- to 24-year-old demographic overlaps nicely with the people who are using mobile phones for things like texting and photos, noted Mark Donovan, senior analyst at mobile marketing measurement firm M:Metrics.

According to M:Metrics research conducted over a three month period ending this June, 68.7 percent of U.S. males aged 18 to 24 sent a text message to another phone at least once a month, compared to 57.2 percent of men ages 25 to 34 and 38.4 percent of men ages 35 to 54. The same study found that 71.7 percent of U.S. females aged 18 to 24 sent a text message to another phone at least once a month, compared to 52.9 percent of women aged 25 to 34 and 35.5 percent of women aged 35 to 54.

“In the last six months we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of advertising agencies and packaged goods companies… wanting to learn about mobile as a marketing channel,” observed Donovan. “We’re really on the verge of seeing mobile take off as a serious marketing channel that will stand alone as a part of a marketing mix,” he added.

McDonalds ran a similar regional campaign in Southern California last year in conjunction with mobile marketing firm Gamut to promote its ice cream-esque McFlurry treat. Other fast food chains including Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have conducted mobile marketing campaigns recently as well.

Although the McDonald’s late night effort may seem on the basic side, Enpocket’s LaGattuta has noticed mobile campaigns becoming more advanced. For instance, the mobile firm has begun working with auto advertisers to enable interactive mobile campaigns that allow users to customize images of new car models. “Now,” she said, “we’re seeing the sophistication level bumped up a notch.”

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