Consumers Trade Recyclables for Burgers at McDonald’s in Sweden

Campaign from DDB Stockholm targets young Swedes

How do you get young people to care about recycling? Free burgers couldn't hurt.

DDB Stockholm and McDonald's collaborated on a campaign in Sweden which allows customers to pay for hamburgers, cheeseburgers and even Big Macs with recycled cans. Billboards placed around Stockholm announce the campaign with a roll of plastic bags that can be used to collect cans for recycling. Each bag also explains the custom pricing for the promotion: 10 cans nets you a hamburger or cheeseburger, while 40 will get you a Big Mac. The billboards are mostly centered around parks or summer festival areas, where, as DDB Stockholm puts it, "you'll find a lot of young people with empty drink cans and empty wallets."

Simon Higby, a DDB Stockholm creative, told Fast Company the challenge of the campaign was getting young people into McDonald's following summer festivals or days spent in the park. "Youngsters don't always have so much cash, but sometimes they can get empty cans," he said. "So, accepting cans in return for burgers gets them to McDonald's and the cans to the recycling depot. Everyone's happy."

The campaign makes a lot of sense for McDonald's, since it not only aligns the often criticized brand with a cause, but also gets a younger crowd inside the store—an age group which the brand has struggled to appeal to (at least stateside). And once in the store, many customers could opt for fries or a drink to go with the burger, increasing sales of such items.

The campaign is just the latest example of brands aligning with causes. McDonald's latest attempt to align itself with environmental concerns especially calls to mind Coca-Cola's recent cause marketing efforts, including PlantBottle and "Happiness Arcade," a push in Bangladesh featuring arcade machines that accepted empty Coke bottles as currency.