This clip from McDonald’s shows people interacting with images on its e-billboard in London’s Piccadilly Circus:
The idea’s not particularly innovative, but it harnesses an astute observation: people enjoy constructing ‘clever’ photos and videos.
The images on the billboard offer passersby the opportunity to create some amusing things to share with their friends through things like Flickr, Facebook, or YouTube.
It’s a very simple communications proposition, but one that the brand clearly believes in; McDonald’s restaurants have employed the mechanic for years with their Ronald McDonald benches:
But what does the approach offer McDonald’s?
At the most basic level, it demonstrates a brand personality.
In the Piccadilly Circus example, it seems the objective is to demonstrate a lighthearted and ‘fun’ persona.
Many brands are doing something similar:
The cynic’s response to this is invariably, “but does it sell more product?“
The approach certainly doesn’t employ the Pavlovian response model; instead, its appeal is much more subtle.
The purpose is to establish an emotional bond with the audience that makes them feel a stronger sense of affinity towards the ‘brand’, which in this case is probably the overall experience of visiting a McDonald’s, rather than a specific product in its menu.
If someone feels a greater affinity towards McDonald’s, there’s a better chance they’ll choose the brand over competitors.
It’s not rocket science, but in a world where scientific, linear proof is increasingly required to justify any comms investment, it’s worth pointing out that our emotions often override rational logic.