McDonalds Digital Happy Meal

'What makes children care about the McDonalds Happy Meal toy in the digital age?'

The key question surrounding a McDonalds project to renovate their toy offerings to suit children who all seem to have their parents, or even their own, smartphones and tablets. This question needed to be solved both from the creative direction of making child friendly experiences, and also creative technology to make use of their toys in an entirely new way.

With The Marketing Store already the largest manufacturer by volume of McDonalds Happy Meal toys, I was brought into TMSW as digital creative director to helm the project from inception. Ultimately realized as a device agnostic platform for delivering educational games, shows, music, and other owned content, our keyframe element was a framework for a system of games controlled wirelessly via a smartphone or tablet that could slip into or clip onto the 2014 Happy Meal toys.

Asia, with their notorious 'Tiger Moms' often don't set aside enough time for play in their childrens life. Our insight, based off the idea that 'there are only 940 weekends from birth until college', was to give a fun, multi-player, and multi-generation series of games along with the Happy Meal toy, while still encouraging learning and physical education.

Using the same backend software as Ogilvy NODE each toy was accompanied with a monthly game that it could interact with. After a parent registers a Happy Meal account for their children on our platform, the toy unlocks a unique game or experience via Computer Vision. After unlocking the game, the child attaches their toy to a smartphone, launches the main screen game on a laptop or IP enabled TV, and the two sync together. After this, the child is able to play 'Wii-like' games by him or herself, or with friends, siblings, or parents.

This demo game allowed for a two person 'subway surfer' type experience. Ideally a mom and child, both holding smartphones, sync up to the game played on their living room computer, moving the phone (and connected toy) left to control the character left, right to go right, and, you guessed it, shaking up to make the character jump. Haptic feedback such as phone vibration triggered when on screen characters landed or finished.
Parents would first create an account for their children, where all the games, videos, and content would be housed.
With total admin control over the entire experience, parents would monitor usage and game types, and even turn on and off certain experiences.
The childrens dashboard was where all the magic happened. They were able to collect digital experiences as easily as collecting the physical toys, and unlock and launch extremely immersive, physically based games and experiences.
Using CV (Computer Vision), all the child needs to do to unlock content is to wave their toy in front of the camera on any device running the platform.
In addition to games, the platform gives McDonalds a way to serve unique video content to children.