McDonald's is taking consumers to the planet of Pandora -- the fictional world where the upcoming movie "Avatar" is set -- via advertising, in-store displays and an extensive digital component in advance of the film's release later this month.
"We are very excited about this blockbuster movie, and we believe our customers will be equally excited the 'Avatar' fun that only McDonald's can bring," said McDonald's Global Chief Marketing Officer Mary Dillon in a Webcast to announce the promotions.
The global promotion includes in-store signage in Latin America, where customers can stand next to larger-than-life images from the movie; commercials in Australia and China, and a digital morphing tool available in Europe in which people can transform their own pictures into "Avatar" characters.
In the United States, McDonald's is tying the movie in with its signature Big Mac sandwich. Between Dec. 18 and Jan. 7, customers purchasing a Big Mac will receive one of eight "Avatar Thrill Cards," which will give them access to the immersive online experience. A television spot touting the promotion shows a man becoming immersed in the Pandora world as he bites into a Big Mac sandwich.
"The Big Mac is all about the thrill of your senses," said McDonald's U.S. Chief Marketing Officer Neal Golden about the selection of the sandwich for the tie-in. "There's so much going on with the Big Mac. We think it's a perfect match for the movie." The digital content, available worldwide, includes a game, PandoraQuest, wherein players try to find objects hidden within different landscapes on the fictional planet. As players collect more items, they come closer to the goal of become a member of the RDA Research Team from the movie and, for U.S. players, unlock bonus features from the film. In addition, McDonald's has created an augmented reality to uncover characters and scenes from the film, as well as a game where they can interactively explore the planet.
"The McDonald's consumer around the world is going to feel that they're a part of the movie," said director James Cameron during the Webcast. "This partnership is one of the very, very innovative ways we can get people excited about the movie as we get closer to its release."
Dillon would not comment on the specific spending McDonald's had put behind the promotion, but she admitted it was "significant," particularly considering the technological investment to develop the digital aspects.
In recent years, McDonald's has been greatly focused on the digital aspects of its entertainment partnerships. When promoting "Shrek 3," the company set up a online promotion encouraging kids to get active. Last year, as part of its tie-in with the Olympics, McDonald's sponsored an alternate reality game called "The Lost Ring."
"We are all about relevance and innovation for our customers," Dillon said of the increased digital presence. "Social media and gaming is hot right now, and you can expect more from us in this area in the future."