Dear McDonald’s and LEGO: This is not how you do marketing.
One of the byproducts of (a) being a single person who (b) lives alone and (c) tends to be lazy is that I eat out more than I really should. McDonald’s tends to be an at-least-weekly thing for me, mostly because I discovered that Happy Meals are cheap, comparatively healthy, and come with a toy. Not gonna lie; I’ve chosen a Happy Meal over Chicken Nuggets because of the toy option on more than one occasion. *
So tonight, I was rather excited when I saw that the current tie-in was the LEGO movie.
I love LEGOs. Many of my fondest memories from childhood are of playing LEGOs with my brother, especially since it was one of the few things he’d reliably play with me. My parents (I mean, uh, Santa) still give us LEGOs for Christmas. And in fact, the Marketing Department is going as a group to see the LEGO movie.
All this to say, I was rather disappointed to discover that the tie-in toy was…a cup.
I don’t care if it has a picture of LEGO Batman on it. A cup is not a toy.
Part of the point of McDonald’s toys and tie-ins is to build up brand loyalty. Repeated, positive experiences with both brands will result in children being sold for life on that brand. It’s why My Little Pony and Pound Puppies were revived. It’s why people are loyal to McDonald’s or Burger King, but not both. And it’s why LEGO remains so popular today.
This should have been the perfect opportunity for both LEGO and McDonald’s. I mean, I get that LEGO wouldn’t want to give away movie character minifigs; they’re trying to sell those separately. But you give kids a toy. You give them LEGOs. Maybe revive the McDonald’s Drive-Thru brick set in some form, or figure out some direct connection to the restaurant. Or maybe a series of 4 minifigs: The fry-chef; the customer with a burger; Ronald McDonald; the generic McDonald’s t-shirt.
Give kids a toy. Give them the one toy that fosters creativity; that even parents will want their kids to keep; that will drive adult collectors to McDonald’s in droves. Give them a toy that will get tossed into their bucket of other LEGOs; that will be pulled out when they pull out all their sets to make one giant mishmash of a city or spaceport or castle or pirate ship. And give them a branded toy, so when they play with their mishmash sets, they can stick a McDonald’s t-shirt torso on their Star Wars minifig, and remember why they love both McDonald’s and LEGOs.
Give them a toy. Be shameless about the tie-in to the restaurant, as long as the fun of the toy supports it. Give them a minifig or a set. They’ve done it before. It shouldn’t be hard now.
Just…don’t give them a cup.
*That’s it, Eldred, keep overselling yourself like that to make the dates roll in for Valentine’s Day.