Tuesday, April 1, 2008

McDonalds and IOC Partner on Olympic Themed Virtual Game

McDonald's is sponsoring an "enigmatic Olympic-themed online game called The Lost Ring" that was introduced last month, but "nothing about the game was branded McDonald's," according to Stephanie Clifford of the N.Y. TIMES. The game's Web sites -- "mysterious and hip, like 'Lost' mixed with 'The Blair Witch Project' -- were a far cry from the golden arches." McDonald's Global CMO Mary Dillon: "The Olympics in Beijing are a very big event for us, and we have a lot of different types of activation, with The Lost Ring being the most creative. Our goal is really about strengthening our bond with the global youth culture." Clifford reports the game began with 50 bloggers "receiving packages with an Olympic-themed poster and a clue pointing them to TheLostRing.com," which includes a trailer with sci-fi lighting and a narrator. As players searched for clues, they soon found the site's terms of service, which "revealed that McDonald's, in partnership with the [IOC], was behind the game." Gamer Geoff May, who founded a Web site based on the game, said, "Finding out that it was McDonald's was kind of a big shock for everyone." The game is scheduled to run through the Beijing Olympics Closing Ceremony on August 24. McDonald's would not disclose the spend on the campaign, though Dillon said, "In the context of the total Olympics, it's just a fraction of what we're doing." Dillon added that she sees the game "as more of a learning experience." Dillon: "You can't put an R.O.I. on this." McDonald's said that the game has attracted 150,000 players so far, with 70% of the traffic from outside the U.S.



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