McDonald’s “pretend play” set returns, this time with pets

After nearly a year, McDonald’s hit “pretend play” toy set has returned. Between 8 May and 11 June, one of the toys will come with every Happy Meal. There are 8 items in total within the “pretend play” series which includes toy versions of McDonald’s items and fixtures such as staff hats, headsets, badges, drink machines, cash registers and drive thru intercom.

Although the release coincides with Children’s Day in China on 1 June, the campaign has significantly corrected course according to the results from last year. When the first “pretend play” set was realised last summer, apart from some young parents putting the hat on their children, most posts online showed young people playing with the toys themselves. However, another trend quickly took over – pets in McD hats behind the counter.

Inspired by those UGC posts, the campaign this year was modelled only by a corgi and an orange tabby cat. This propelled the official WeChat post to gain over 100,000 views, the topmost of analytics shown by WeChat. The collection does not have its own topic on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, but the launch helped the topic “Happy Meal” (#开心乐园餐#) gain over 1.54 million views within 2 days.

McDonald’s is currently locked in a price competition with fellow fast-food chains such as KFC and Burger King. On 6 May, the Big M launched a 10 RMB (1.38 USD) for a set of 2 items event. This is to counter KFC’s 9.9 RMB (1.37 USD) vouchers. Burger King launched its 9.9 RMB set menus as early as last June with daily new promotions.

However, the price war cannot last as Luckin has already narrowed its 9.9 RMB menu and Tim Hortons announced a price hike. It looks like this was McDonald’s attempt at breaking the deadlock by continuously providing “emotional value” and securing the loyalty of its customers with fun and appealing campaigns.


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