Saturday, May 21 2022

Diving Brief:

  • McDonald’s announces the Lunar New Year with a metaverse activation designed with Opening Ceremony co-founder Humberto Leon. according to a statement.
  • Billed as the burger chain’s first multimedia collaboration, the virtual space celebrating the Year of the Tiger features Leon’s elaborate zodiac sculptures, which are inspired by Chinese cork carving dioramas and 3D wooden puzzles. Visitors can receive horoscope readings based on their zodiac signs while exploring a venue designed by Cliff Tan, an architect who applies feng shui principles to imbue interiors with a feel-good energy.
  • “McDonald’s Hall of Zodiacs: 2022 Lunar New Year with Humberto Leon” was performed with multicultural agency IW Group and is open until February 15. It is accessible through the AltspaceVR and Spatial Virtual Reality (VR) platforms, as well as mobile and desktop versions. McDonald’s is airing TV spots on Asian news channels nationwide to support the effort, and some stores will hand out traditional red-envelope gifts to connect with consumers enjoying the holidays.

Overview of the dive:

McDonald’s is rolling out a cutting-edge tech marketing piece around the Lunar New Year on Feb. 1, a holiday mostly celebrated in East and Southeast Asian countries. This year marks the Year of the Tiger, a time centered on courageous and fearless qualities. The activation shows that the fast-food distributor continues to experiment in the burgeoning frontier of the metaverse while trying to engage a set of American consumers who are increasingly important to its business.

Aiming for a “bold and unconventional take” on tradition, the Big Mac supplier enlisted advertising agency IW Group and Chinese-Peruvian-born Leon of Opening Ceremony. The fashion and distribution brand he co-founded with Carol Lim is known for his elaborate and diverse productions on the tracks, a theatrical sensibility that the Year of the Tiger showcase attempts to capture through towering zodiac sculptures arranged as an interactive art exhibit. Opening ceremony closed all its outlets due to the impact of COVID-19, while its brand and intellectual property was recently acquired by New Guards Group.

McDonald’s has become more ambitious with its Lunar New Year campaigns as Asian Americans have more purchasing power and display a preference for digital media. Last year, the owner of Golden Arches in partnership with Asian music collective 88rising on a Lunar New Year push that included virtual concerts streamed through the McDonald’s app and a miniseries on Instagram’s IGTV streaming portal.

This year’s concept is notable for bringing the metaverse to the fore, the latest sign that marketers are invested in realizing the potential of channels that connect the physical world to shared virtual spaces. Yet McDonald’s seems to recognize that only a small cohort of consumers actually own a proper VR headset, as the Hall of Zodiac is also available in mobile and desktop versions.

McDonald’s other metaverse bets have included a non-fungible token (NFT) drop themed around the return of its limited-run McRib menu item last fall. Its first crack in the NFT market encountered some controversy after a transaction related to one of the digital collectibles contained a racial slur. Due to the immutable nature of the blockchain technology that powers NFTs, McDonald’s was unable to properly clean up the offending message, although it was buried in transaction details.

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