McDonald’s courts cyclists with ‘ride-thru’ campaign 

Fast-food chain creates Bike and Dine facilities to encourage cyclists to discover its most picturesque restaurants in the Philippines

In 2021, McDonald’s in the Philippines noticed that its restaurants were becoming a popular stopover choice for cyclists. The brand invested in Bike and Dine facilities, which include bike repair and e-bike charging stations, integrated bike racks and dining ledges, and bicycle-safe Ride-Thrus. The locations of these outlets include Tagaytay, offering views of Taal Volcano, the island of Boracay, known for its white-sand beaches, and Intramuros, a historic walled city in Manila.

To promote the refurbished restaurants, McDonald’s and agency Leo Burnett Manila created Ride the Arches, designed to incentivise cyclists to discover some of the country's most scenic McDonald’s restaurants.

The programme commenced in May 2024, challenging cycling groups nationwide to create routes with McDonald’s as the start and end points. It also recruited cycling influencers to create and share their favourite routes on popular cycling apps such as Strava and Komoot.

McDonald’s also hosted a series of community bike rides called #TourDeMcDo. Cyclists could claim free meals, special cyclist meals and merchandise for sharing the best photos or riding the most kilometres. Additionally, it planned events for World Bike Day (3 June) and National Bicycle Month (November). McDonald's will continue to roll out more Bike and Dine facilities nationwide.

Results / According to the agency, the campaign encouraged cyclists to ride more than 51,000km and the QSR sold more than 1,080 cyclist meals per day. McDonald’s saw a more than 25% increase in Ride Thru sales. The Bike and Dine facilities expanded bike-friendly infrastructure at McDonald’s restaurants by 110%​​​​​​​.

Contagious Insight 

Pedal to the metal / Ride the Arches helps the brand deepen its connection with cyclists to reframe the McDonald’s experience and drive footfall to more secluded Bike and Dine restaurants.

Raoul Panes, chief creative officer at Leo Burnett Group Manila and Publicis Groupe Philippines, said in a statement, ‘We loved the idea of using McDonald’s scale, infrastructure and operations to support a vast community of bike enthusiasts, adding value with rewards, and creating an always-growing network of routes that lead across our stunning country. By incentivising cyclists to Ride the Arches, McDonald’s has become the gateway to discovering some of the most beautiful places in the Philippines.’

By associating McDonald’s with scenic cycling routes and convenient respites, the campaign positions the QSR chain as a valuable part of your bike journey, not just a fast-food stop. Hosting community bike rides and events like #TourDeMcDo, and planning activities for World Bike Day and National Bicycle Month deepens McDonald’s association with cycling culture, encouraging cyclists to plan their next bike route around Bike and Dine restaurants. It’s also smart to drive association with a healthy activity, shifting notions away from McDonald’s being a junk food brand and positioning it as a more wholesome and appealing place to eat.

Get a handle on things / This campaign shows McDonald’s promoting more sustainable modes of transport to get to its restaurants. Kenneth S Yang, CEO and president of McDonald’s Philippines, said in a press release: ‘We saw an opportunity to improve the customer experience for our two-wheeled customers, and be an advocate for sustainable mobility – encouraging more customers to ride.’

The QSR chain isn’t often associated with sustainability and has been accused of greenwashing in the past. In 2021, Greenpeace UK criticised McDonald’s when it opened its first net-zero restaurant in Shropshire, England, because its menu included meat and dairy.

Now we’re seeing more sincere efforts from the brand to tackle environmental issues. In 2023, McDonald’s in Sweden launched a reward scheme in its app, which offered customers deals for binning its packaging instead of littering it on the street. We recently wrote about how the QSR chain has taken the initiative one step further by opening up the offers to those who correctly dispose of its biggest competitors’ packaging. Both initiatives by McDonald’s Sweden and the Philippines show the brand actively encouraging people to interact with the brand in more environmentally friendly ways.

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