McDonalds, Pong and gamification: A match made in heaven?

This is the first of a special series where the creative slaves at share their thoughts about what’s happening in the creative industry and beyond. You can check them out at and @Fluffylinks

In an attempt to injected new life into billboard advertising, McDonalds have turned to the classic game of Pong. Traditionally billboards are boring and largely ineffective when it comes to advertising. People barely glance at them when passing by and they contribute very little in creating awareness. Can you remember the 10-20 billboards you walked past today?

Humans love playing games. They appeal to our sense of fun and competitiveness, so McDonalds are taking advantage of this behavioural trait by turning to ”gamification”. Other than being a big buzz word at the moment, gamification is the use of game mechanics in areas traditionally not associated with games such as online shopping, survey completion or, in this case, billboard advertising.

In this instance, passers-by are invited to play Pong on a large interactive billboard. Not only does the billboard grab peoples attention, the game provides successful players with digital coupons which they can use in nearby stores which significantly increases the likely of new business for McDonalds. This campaign offers a far better experience than what Living Social or Facebook Deals offer. What’s even better is you don’t even have to download an App to play as the game is web based. However, you do need a smart phone.

McDonalds got this campaign right on a number of levels by keeping it simple. They resisted the temptation to place unnecessary barriers infront of the consumer such as choosing a complicated game or forcing people to install apps. Instead they focussed their attention on creating a great user experience with a strong promotional offer.

McDonald’s and DDB Stockholm have brought new life to billboard advertising with one of the best examples of engagement marketing we have seen in some time. With this campaign, they have a winner on their hands. The lesson here for marketers is to resist the temptation to over complicate campaigns along and consider what gamification can do for your business. So here’s to Pong and free food. Now prepare to pile on those pounds and become the next giant Billboard.


[Original Source]

Editor in Chief at here SMNZ, I have a passion for social and digital media. When not writing and managing SMNZ I am the Head of Innovation at TAG The Agency, a digital ad agency and the Head of Sales and Marketing for End-Game, a software development agency. I'm also involved with a number of startups and I am always keen to support those that are bold enough to give things a go. Start something, better to try than to live wondering what if...


  1. The Common Room Reply

    Not sure If I totally agree with you on the “Traditionally billboards are boring and largely ineffective when it comes to advertising.” claim. You do get a lot of reach for your money with outdoor and it can be really effective (and cool) for the right brands and the right message.

    This is a particularly nice piece of cross media/mobile integration though. The things you can do with a McDonalds budget aye! Really cool.

  2. Creative Slave Reply


    “You do get a lot of reach for your money with outdoor and it can be really effective (and cool) for the right brands and the right message.”

    You could say that about labels for canned soup 🙂

    1. The Common Room Reply

      yeah, I DO say that about labels for canned soup! That’s why we have a packaging industry worth kajillions of dollars.

      I guess what I mean is that it’s really easy to disregard advertising channels that aren’t particularly sexy or have been around forever but the fact is, outdoor advertising, in many situations, works very very well at raising awareness or (in some cases) driving direct sales.


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