McDonald’s debuted its new giveaway campaign, Trick. Treat. Win!, and with it a “Bad Luck Brian” revival—the famous Internet meme of an awkward high school teen that came into our virtual lives in 2012. Launched on October 5th, players have a one-in-four our chances to win and even unlucky people can score a prize according to the ad.
Kyle Craven, “Bad Luck Brian’s” real name, stars in the new commercial for the chain’s seasonal game. In the 30-second spot, Craven sits in an apartment with a McDonald’s bag, fries, drink and burger box and next to him the high school photo that made him famous.
“A while back my yearbook photo went viral and not in a good way,” said Craven in the ad, as he gestures towards his picture. He peels off a game piece and instantly wins a Big Mac. The voiceover concludes it with the campaign’s tagline, “McDonald’s Trick. Treat. Win! game, with one in four odds of instantly winning, you won’t need luck.”
In another spot, Craven recreates the meme and abruptly stands up to get out of it.
The ads are featured on all social media outlets, but have gotten the most reaction on Reddit—where the “Bad Luck Brian” meme was first posted.
Most comments are either supportive of Craven capitalizing on his meme or criticizing McDonald’s attempt a meme advertising. One Redditor wrote, “10 years ago this ad would’ve been good.” Reactions on Facebook are a bit more receptive.
This is not McDonald’s first meme rodeo. The fast-food giant received a lot of backlash in 2012 for its #Shamrocking which was tied to the Shamrock Shake. Lovers of the mint-flavored treat could post pictures of themselves on Twitter posing in an Irish jig-like stance while holding the drink.
Critics pointed out how the word “shamrocking” already had an offensive definition and felt it was unoriginal, comparing it to the Captain Morgan pose.
However, is this style of marketing a total fail? Meme marketing can be very successful. Memes are usually funny, entertaining and easy to consume. They are also easier to share than a blog. Companies must know what’s trending to use an existing meme and understand the meme because its context can shift over time.
During an Advertising Week session last week, Joe Federer, Reddit’s head of brand strategy, and Maria Vorovich, strategy director at Grey, offered meme marketing pointers. You can use existing memes, learn the meme (understand what its saying and how it got there), and surprise people with a unique approach.
The meme marketing campaign seems to indicate a larger shift in McDonald’s marketing perspective. McDonald’s ‘Trick. Treat. Win’ giveaway continues until after Halloween.