McDonald’s promo sparks hunt for old ads on Google Street View 

Fast food chain helps Swedes with cost-of-living crisis by honouring expired deals that still appear on Google Street View

In December 2022, McDonald’s launched an interactive campaign in Sweden to help ease the strains of inflation. Deals Stuck in Time encouraged people to access Google Street View to track down old out-of-home promotions and unlock deals that were ‘frozen in time’.

The campaign hinges on a Google Maps navigation tool that allows people to wind the clock back in Street View so users can see what roads looked like in years past – a desktop feature that was extended to mobile phones in 2022. ‘Time travellers’ could track down McDonald’s OOH promotions dating as far back as 2009, and submit their discoveries to the campaign website and then apply the deal when ordering on the McDonald’s app.

‘McDonald’s have had good prices and many good offers over the years. We thought it was a good and fun idea to revive old McDonalds offers and allow for “time travels”, especially at a time when price is discussed more than ever,’ Staffan Ekstam, marketing director at McDonald’s Sweden said in a statement.

Working with Nord DDB, Stockholm, McDonald’s ran the new Deals Stuck in Time out of home in the same spots as the old OOH, to help people navigate Google Maps and uncover the past promotions. The campaign was promoted through out-of-home, digital out-of-home, film, audio and social media and ran until 15 January 2023.

Contagious Insight 

We got your back / During difficult economic times, it’s common for brands to offer deals and offers to encourage customers to continue spending with them. However, applying deals comes with the risk of brand devaluation. As Byron Sharp illustrates in How Brands Grow, customers can show resistance to paying the normal price after paying a discounted price. Moreover, Mark Ritson writes, ‘Brand equity is the difference between a brand and its commodity equivalent. Never forget this. Or that discounting literally reduces that difference.’ The challenge for brands is to create discount campaigns without devaluing their products or brand.

By turning this campaign into an Easter egg hunt style game, Deals Stuck in Time, neatly distracts from the promotional aspect with the fun, interactive element and dials up McDonald’s longevity and good-value credentials. Nord DDB creative director Petter Dixelius told Contagious, ‘The brief was to create a value campaign, which McDonald’s in Sweden do every year after the holidays, which historically is a time when people have less in their wallets. The campaigns are usually tactical out of home [campaigns] with a focus on product and price, but with this creative idea we managed to leverage the last 14 years of tactical OOH investments and simultaneously offer people a pretty good deal.’

Drive downloads / Since the Covid-19 pandemic, 58% of consumers said that mobile app ordering has added to their fast-food experience as it provides a fast and seamless ordering experience. Fast food restaurants further benefit from investing in app innovation because they can market lower price points via direct channels and gather important customer data that aids their audience understanding.

It’s no surprise then that McDonald’s has been pushing app downloads as part of its marketing efforts – in January 2022, McDonald’s Sweden launched The Golden Number campaign, which consisted of a giveaway challenge based on the restaurant’s famous jingle, and the winners of the challenge were announced on the McDonald’s app. Deals Stuck in Time drives app downloads in a similarly fun, engaging way – people have gone to the effort of hunting down a historical deal, after all, the effort to download an app completes the circle. 

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