McDonald’s seeks to boost its digital credentials with children’s app launch

McDonald’s is relaunching its ‘Happy Studio’ app in a bid to help kids develop personal skills while also enhancing the brand’s digital profile.

Siblings Playing on Tablet PC

The app includes a series of developmental games that help children improve their skills while they experiment and solve challenges. Using the app, kids can perform various activities including build planes, learn musical notes or draw paintings.

The new Happy Studio, developed by R/GA London, will be part of the European Happy Meal programme and first launches today (30 October). The UK release will be in December with further rollouts to 42 countries in Europe completed by January 2016.

Delphine Malvy, McDonald’s global senior director of family marketing and alliances, told Marketing Week that the app provides an opportunity for the brand to enter the digital world in a way that felt right for the company.

“We didn’t want to be in the digital world just for the sake of it as we are not inherently a digital company. We will never forget our DNA. This is why we wanted the app to have a purpose and focus on helping kids develop,” she said.

“Very humbly, we know who we are and where we are, and the app provided us with an opportunity to teach as well as learn lessons ourselves.”

When it comes to promoting the app, Malvy said the brand is careful not to aggressively target children.

“We may communicate to parents digitally on social networks, but we are very careful about how we communicate with kids. The marketing is about playing it in a way that is right for us but also for the children’s parents,” she said.

While the communications differ market by market, there will be in-store signs and unique Happy Meal packaging to promote the activity. Scanning the Happy Meal toy will provide direct access to the app’s download page.

Malvy believes that McDonald’s has learnt a lot from its previous Happy Studio platform, which was aimed at desktop users.

“Before, we didn’t have the possibility to extend our brand purpose, which is for kids to have fun and learn. But now with the techniques that are available, we have more agility and can provide something of excellence and stand out in a crowded app marketplace,” she concluded.

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