McDonald’s Targets African Americans Online

McDonald’s is promoting its new Fruit & Walnut Salad by enticing African-American women to engage with rich media ad units.

The six-week campaign was designed by digital marketing agency ImagineThat in conjunction with McDonald’s multicultural marketing agency, Burrell, a unit of Publicis. Spend wasn’t disclosed.

“What we realized when we were doing the research was that women were active gamers,” said Derek Bonney, senior VP of ImagineThat. “Each one of those units was built with a game inside of it. We realized women weren’t into the shoot-’em-up, kill-’em-type games. They were more into the mind teasers that they could relax and share with friends.”

The effort employs United Virtualities’ Ooqa-Ooqa branded-browser takeover, as well as expandable ads and interstitial units from Eyeblaster. Standard Flash banners will also appear as part of the campaign. The media buy includes BET.com, BlackPlanet.com, AOL BlackVoices, and Vibe Online.

The Ooqa-Ooqa ad, which will run exclusively on BET.com, is triggered whenever an Internet Explorer user enters a content category ImagineThat found to be popular with women — books, health, or beauty. When the browser launches, its usual navigation is replaced by a McDonald’s themed navigation, which includes a picture of the Fruit & Walnut Salad and a button that says “play game.” The themed browser remains until either the user turns it off or leaves the channel.

“The goal was to find a unique way to bring the brand in front of the users,” said Bonney. “To date, we’re very happy with the results as far as people keeping it active in their browsers and continuing to surf through the channels.”

Both the expandable creative and the interstitial unit feature games as well. The expandable ad begins as a 160 x 600 unit that asks viewers “What is Fruit Buzz?” and invites them to play a word scramble game to discover the answer. Once the user comes up with the answer, a picture and description of the salad appear. The creative also features a drawing of an African-American woman.

The interstitial, or “commercial break” format, features a game that lets the viewer manipulate a bowl with her mouse and catch pieces of fruit as they fall from the top of the ad unit.

“With this campaign in particular we weren’t particularly interested in driving traffic to the landing page,” said Bonney. “It was more about generating awareness and brand exposure.”

The online campaign is running in conjunction with TV and print creative targeted to the same African-American audience.

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