McDonald’s has been hard at work with some rather creative marketing campaigns this year, from farm tours to augmented reality. Whether you’re rolling your eyes or “lovin’ it,” one thing is certain—the world-famous purveyor of hamburgers has the world talking.

Futuristic Fast Food

McDonald’s is entering a new era of brand outreach, embracing new technologies and utilizing social media. Earlier this year, Swedish consumers were treated to virtual reality headsets made out of Happy Meal boxes. During South By Southwest 2016, the company created a virtual experience, where users could recreate the ability to actually be part of a Happy Meal, stepping inside a box and being able to design it however they please.

To promote their partnership with the Angry Birds movie, character-themed Happy Meal boxes included a code for an augmented reality game developed by Blippar.

“For The Angry Birds Movie, it makes sense that this AR mini-game would resonate well with the expected, younger target audience because of the engaging content, but moreover, because the content is delivered on a smart vehicle that has become second nature to younger generations,” said Omaid Hiwaizi, president of global marketing for Blippar. “The challenge for brands in engaging kids, however, is in providing quality content that can compete for the attention on established and powerful game and movie franchises. Nevertheless, just like The Angry Birds Movie brings the popular mobile game to life, this AR experience offers a new way for fans to play.”

Thinking Outside The Happy Meal Box

To celebrate National Hamburger Day on May 25, McDonald’s hosted its first Facebook Live video—an hour-long art show reminiscent of Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting. Titled The Starving Artist, the mock program featured an improv actor wearing a sweater and fanny pack creating hamburger-inspired artwork. He told viewers that he was going to take the burgers from “mouth-worthy to museum-worthy.” Over the course of the show, three oil paintings were revealed: “The Beefy Gastronaut,” “Burger Brawn” and “Beefy Peaks.” The paintings by artist Adam Holzrichter are to be auctioned on eBay to benefit the Ronald McDonald House charities.

“We’re looking at ways that we can make a big, bold move,” Paul Matson, McDonald’s director of U.S. social engagement told Adweek. “Doing something live is a little bit of a calculated risk. It’s inherently interesting because you don’t know what’s going to happen so we’re trying to take advantage of that and see how that might work for a business that’s 60 years old, such as ourselves. So it’s reinventing ourselves in the way we show our customers our story and Facebook Live happens to be a great way in for us to do that.”

McDonald's celebrated National Hamburger Day with their first Facebook Live stream. The paintings above will be auctioned for their Ronald McDonald House charities. (Source: McDonald's)
The paintings above will be auctioned for their Ronald McDonald House charities. (Source: McDonald’s)

According to McDonald’s the Facebook Live stream reached 884,300 people in 40 minutes, and garnered around 43,200 engagements (likes, comments and shares).

‘Angry’ Burgers

In a publicity stunt that delighted many and horrified others, McDonald’s restaurants in China have been serving red and green hamburger buns as a tie-in to the Angry Birds movie. The brand “rolled” out the brightly-colored sandwiches to mixed reviews. The Naughty Green Pork Burger represents green pigs from the game/film, while the Super Red Burger is a chicken sandwich that matches the angry, feathered protagonist.

The Naughty Green Pork Burger and Super Red Burger, which is actually chicken.
The Naughty Green Pork Burger and Super Red Burger, which is actually chicken.

McDonald’s Of The Future

The 75-year-old restaurant chain has survived and thrives due to its ability to adapt. The first McDonald’s was actually a barbecue restaurant, but its founders changed their focus when they realized that 80 percent of sales came from hamburgers. Today, the brand continues to evolve with the times and demand of its audiences, from offering healthy menu items and breakfast all day to educating the public about their farming techniques. As we enter a new age of social media and content creation, McDonald’s is definitely not afraid to try new marketing ideas.