Lead Agency



The Challenge

Despite low appropriateness perceptions, McDonald’s does have a unique property, true to the brand’s DNA of family, inclusivity and fun: the Player Escort programme that gives children a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be at the heart of biggest football events and walk out on the pitch hand-in-hand with their biggest football heroes. Previous EURO and World Cup research
showed that people who were aware of the programme rated sponsorship appropriateness 15% higher than the average. TNS study also confirmed that winning over families was key to increasing perception of appropriateness as parents favour brands that are committed to promoting children’s wellbeing. Yet previously McDonald’s had not made the programme a marketing priority and never communicated their Player Escort efforts at scale. OMD decided to
change this and make the Player Escort programme the key focus of our EURO activation.
The challenge: make the Player Escort story resonate with parents at scale across 28 very
different countries.

The Strategy

Our strategy was to connect with parents’ inner child by showing them football in a fresh way – through the eyes of the Player Escort kids.

Children are unfiltered and animated, their excitement is contagious. Their reactions remind us all of how special football can be – and of how McDonald’s makes the mascots’ dreams come true. This is the biggest day of their lives
as they walk onto the pitch with their football heroes. The eyes of Europe are on them. They’re doing something the rest of us can only dream of. And critically, because kids are so expressive… they can tell us exactly how it feels. Our approach was to make the official Player Escort kids famous in their own right by showing the tournament through their eyes – giving people a glimpse into their fresh, ingenious and often hilarious perspectives, reactions and experiences at EURO 2016 in France.

We’d capture the essence of the Player Escort experience by offering an exclusive, behind-the-scenes view at their journey – from the recruitment stage all the way through to their presence at the match. We’d then ignite the
excitement throughout the tournament, balancing thrilling longer form video and short, snappy and engaging social content tailored to each of the 28 participating countries. All content would tap into the mood of each nation and feed into the most talked-about match moments – always with a fun, light-hearted tone suitable to our family audience.

The Implementation

Recruitment stage Between February and May 2016, markets ran a competition for children aged 6-10 to become a McDonald’s Player Escort at EURO 2016. In the UK, McDonald’s ambassadors Ryan Giggs, Martin
Keown and Pat Jennings launched the competition, asking parents to capture their child’s passion for football by uploading images of them enjoying the beautiful game. Germany teamed up with artist Mark Forster,
asking children to sing their personal football anthem, while Spain partnered with Fernando Torres, asking kids to demonstrate their passion for football in a creative way. Tournament stage We set up dedicated
production teams to create near real-time content around individual matches. We monitored action on- and off-pitch 24/7 from our centralised London hub and on-site from seven French cities. Content was captured live during the match, adapted overnight and broadcast in the morning to tap into newsfeed conversations about last night’s match. We created two types of tailored content:
• Long-form Player Escort Video Diaries
• Short-form social content (GIFs, videos, memes).
All content was tailored by country, with Social assets reflecting kids’ reactions to what had happened on the pitch: scenarios such as win, lose, and draw. So if France won, their social content showed kids’ euphoric celebrations.
Execution spanned 28 markets which meant 28 totally distinct distribution strategies and 196 different pieces of content with paid media support. Activation strategy was totally agile, allowing for optimisation in real-time
across Facebook, YouTube, and Programmatic towards the best performing environments, assets, and audience segments in each market.

The Result

Our social-first, content-led campaign exceeded all KPIs and became the most engaging Family campaign for McDonald’s Europe to date.
• 99 Million unique people exposed to our activation in Europe (source: Atlas).
• 55 video diaries and 141 Social content pieces created and watched 310 hours+ – akin to watching Game of Thrones six times.
• 16% engagement rate among Parents, beating previous McDonald’s FryFutbol World Cup benchmarks by fourfold
• Ad recall: 9 points exposed vs non exposed on both Facebook and Youtube
• Awareness of Player Escorts increased by 8% among viewers of 30sec+ (+11% pts in the UK, +10% pts in Italy, +7% pts in France, +6% pts in Germany, +20% pts in Finland) (YouTube Brand Life study)
• Sponsorship appropriateness up by +5% vs EURO 2012 to the highest level ever measured for a McDonald’s sponsorship (Olympics, FIFA WC or UEFA EURO). Highlights: +26% pts in the UK, +20pts in France, +19% pts in
Germany, +18% pts in Sweden, +13% pts in Spain (TNS post-event research 2012 & 2016)
• The European activation was such a success that McDonald’s Global was inspired to turn the spotlight on another of their sports sponsorships and sent children from across the world to Rio 2016 Olympics.