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With Sales Sliding, McDonald's Plans 24 Hours Of "Joy" Around The World

The fast-food giant’s sales are in a slump, and its brand has become a target for everyone from health campaigners to labor organizers. In a bid to turn things around, the company will launch a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign tomorrow.


McDonald's is in a tough spot right now: Its sales are falling, its CEO resigned in January, and labor organizers have the company in their crosshairs. And as it plans for a turnaround in 2015, the company has declared tomorrow a global day of joy.

The burger chain has planned a series of events in cities across the world, beginning with a giant ball pit in Sydney and culminating 24 hours later with a free Ne-Yo concert in Los Angeles.

The "I'm Lovin' It 24" campaign, according to the burger chain's senior director of global brand development, is designed to show appreciation for and engender the loyalty and support of McDonald's customers who consider themselves "global citizens," and reward this constituency with 24 "gifts of joy" through various marketing events (schedule and details below), which include everything from a pajama party in Milan to a drone selfie in Dubai and a pop-up library in Paris.

"We looked at the phenomenon that there's a community of people that consider themselves citizens of the world," Matt Biespiel told BuzzFeed News. "We thought maybe there's a way to let those global citizens see a part of the world that they haven't seen, and try to rethink how we communicate with them. Maybe if we thought of our advertising less as ads and more as little gifts of joy, and doing that, we're trying to show our fun side. We at times can get pretty serious, but we know that McDonald's is a fun and happy place to go."

I'm Lovin' It 24, known internally as "Operation Warhol" comes at a time when some McDonald's employees do not, in fact, consider McDonald's such a fun place to go. In recent months employees have filed complaints alleging widespread racism by McDonald's franchise owners and pervasive workplace dangers that have led to burns and other employee injuries.

Nevertheless, McDonald's is out to cultivate an uplifting brand image among its customers with I'm Lovin' It 24 after another ad campaign encouraging the squashing of internet haters fell flat. The latest event series also comes on the heels of McDonald's recent Super Bowl ad offering free food in exchange for customers expressing their love at various McDonald's stores.

This socially conscience, spread-the-love brand push appears to be the hot new trend in big food marketing, as evidenced by Coke's "Spread Happiness" campaign and Starbucks' recent and short-lived "Race Together" campaign, which encouraged customers to discuss race relations with their Starbucks baristas.

Perhaps one of the most vocal opponents of I'm Lovin' It 24 will be the Fight for $15 campaign, a group of employees pushing for higher wages at McDonald's and other giant fast-food chains.

Biespiel declined to comment on the budget for I'm Lovin' It 24, but an experiential marketing expert told BuzzFeed News the project probably cost McDonald's between $30 and $40 million, a pittance considering the company's "unmatched" $2 billion estimated annual advertising budget over the last few years.

Still, McDonald's is determined to charm its "global citizen" customers, especially of the social media-savvy variety (the hashtag for the event is #ImLovinIt) who attend their I'm Lovin' It 24 events Tuesday. Here's a break down of what McDonald's has planned for the next 24 hours. All times are local.

Sydney, Australia, at 7 a.m.: Have a Ball McCafé

Charley Gallay / Getty Images

McDonald's describes this two-hour event as "a one-of-a-kind experience that interrupts the morning commute in Sydney by encouraging people to pause, forget about their routine and share in a moment of joy on their way to work as they play in a giant coffee cup ball pit." Participants will then be handed a McCafé coffee as they exit the event.

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