McDonald’s Goes Mobile to Tie Brand to NFL Tailgating

Tailgating contest highlights the brand's '14 sponsorship

A range of exclusive Web video offerings, online contests and video game cross-promotions mark the second year of McDonald’s partnership with the National Football League. The three-pronged campaign based on the chain’s official restaurant sponsorship deal with the pro football league begins in earnest on Sept. 2.

The Golden Arches is putting a special push behind a Tailgate Photo Sweepstakes. Tweeting pictures, Vines or Instagram posts of themselves "showing their passion for football and McDonald's food" could give consumers a chance to win a party for 200 people in their hometown that is catered by a mobile McDonald’s kitchen.

Dean Barrett, the chain’s senior vice president and global relationship officer, said, "We know football fans' passion extends beyond game day and traditional tailgating in stadium parking lots. We're channeling this excitement into a new mindset of tailgating with McDonald's food that celebrates and rewards NFL and McDonald's fans anytime, anywhere this football season—whether they're gearing up for kickoff at their home or on-the-go."

The most visible aspect of McDonald’s 2014 pro football campaign for diners will be QR codes printed on NFL-themed packaging. Scanning a code on a medium-sized drink cup will give people access to NFL Now content. The ad-supported website and app lets visitors watch highlights, news reports and documentaries. It launched Aug. 5, and subscribers can personalize the priority in which clips appear.

A different set of QR codes printed on medium fries containers will let customers enter the McDonald's Pick the Play Sweepstakes. People who correctly predict the result of an EA Sports Madden NFL 15 video game play get entered into drawings for pro football-branded prizes. The grand prize includes tickets for and a trip to Super Bowl XLIX.

This year’s NFL campaign marks a significant expansion of what McDonald’s did in the online space to tie its brand to pro football during 2013. A game app titled NFL Runner: Football Dash represented the chain’s most significant mobile NFL-related initiative last season.

The league is welcoming McDonald’s expanded mobile strategy.

"As everyone gets back to football, we're looking forward to working with McDonald's to bring fans closer to the game they love through unique programs and our new personalized digital video service, NFL Now," said Renie Anderson, NFL senior vice president of sponsorship and partnership management.

Interestingly, the mobile push for NFL dollars comes with a slight retrenchment on interactive technology. McDonald’s introduced augmented reality packaging for its FIFA World Cup promotion during June and July. Those drink and fries containers created a hologram-like game experience, while the QR codes being used for the soon-to-launch NFL promotions just take users to webpages.