McDonald’s aims to bring reading into the digital age with ‘landmark’ scheme

McDonald’s is renewing its reading initiative after smashing targets it set in the initial campaign launched in 2013.

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L-R Georgia Pachoo 9, Noah Panchoo 5 from Greenwich and Nick Stewart-Smith 10 from Clapham getting stuck in to reading eight specially created new Roald Dahl books, featuring extracts from Roald Dahl’s most popular stories, launching as part of the latest McDonald’s Happy Readers campaign. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday September 19, 2015. Over the next six weeks, 14 million books will be distributed as part of McDonald’s Happy Meals, making the extraordinary world of Roald Dahl accessible to millions of children. Photo credit should read: David Parry/PA Wire

The new scheme will see 14 million more books featuring extracts from Roald Dahl’s most popular stories distributed to children in a partnership between McDonald’s, National Literacy Trust, Penguin Random House Children’s UK and the Roald Dahl Literary Estate. The original project aimed to hand out 15 million books across the UK but actually delivered nearly 23 million.

“We exceeded the targets in terms of volumes of books and engagement rates have been fantastic,” Steve Hill, McDonald’s UK head of marketing told Marketing Week.

“When we asked parents whether we should continue the initiative as part of the Happy Meal promotion, nine out of 10 said yes.”

McDonald’s is also launching an interactive app to offer a more immersive experience. The app includes voice recognition technology, triggering certain sounds or colours when a particular word is read out.

“We wanted to create a sense of sharing rather than reading being a solo experience. We are bringing reading into the digital age,” he commented.

The brand will be promoting the scheme in all its restaurants. It will also launch a TV ad across a variety of children’s channels and organise live events in major cities in the UK.

The brand’s original initiative is based on research by NLT, which revealed one in three children don’t own a book and half of children don’t enjoy reading.

“Given the scale of our brand and partnerships, it’s an important role we can play to make reading more fun,” said Hill.

When the campaign first launched the brand was criticised for marketing to children, which is why the marketing will primarily focus on the world of Roald Dahl rather than the McDonald’s brand.

“We operate within strict guidelines,” Hill explained.

“With the initiative, children can immerse themselves in the world of Roald Dahl and parents are able to buy the books for £1 without having to purchase a Happy Meal. A lot of our focus is about engaging with parents around the promotion.”

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