McDonald’s in Europe and OMD, in partnership with Facebook and YouTube, roll out the client’s UEFA EURO 2016 activation in 28 European markets with innovative, near-real-time social content

McDonald’s in Europe, along with OMD, Facebook and YouTube, has launched a new activation for UEFA Euro 2016 that breathes life into and raises awareness of McDonald’s long-running Player Escort programme, which gives kids across Europe the opportunity to walk out on the pitch hand in hand with their football heroes and be right in the middle of the championship’s excitement.

The activation is based on the insight that kids have incredible natural enthusiasm and their unfiltered reactions spark the inner kid in their parents and other grown-ups. Through this McDonald’s could ignite the feel-good, good-neighbour feeling that they want to be associated with – and the UEFA European Championship’s was the perfect platform.


The campaign is an innovative and highly complex activation that delivers near-real-time content from the tournament through the eyes of the Player Escort competition winners – 60-second long-form content in the form of a diary of their experience at the tournament amplified on YouTube targeting parents, while the short-form videos, gifs and images showing the kids’ emotions and reactions to the matches are promoted on Facebook, reaching a wider family audience. This content was tailored to the audience – so if, for example, Slovakia won a match, Slovakians would see content of triumphant, excited children while their defeated opponents would see posts around a ‘better luck next time’ sentiment.

The content from individual matches is curated by teams on the ground and delivered to OMD in London by midnight, where the fully integrated team of creatives and content distribution and amplification specialists works overnight to produce market-specific content, seek UEFA, brand and legal approval and distribute and amplify the content – all by 9am CET the following morning so that it is part of the social buzz and water-cooler conversation. In addition, content with anticipative imagery and messaging is created in advance of matches to drive excitement.

This complex activation with involvement from multiple stakeholders and a near-real-time, overnight effort from an inter-disciplinary team at McDonald’s in Europe, OMD (including in-house creative, amplification and distribution specialists), Facebook and YouTube as well as McDonald’s sponsorship agency in Europe Leo Burnett and production teams at Shoot the Company will convey the crucial messaging that McDonald’s is a brand that cares about kids and committed to getting them active and into sport, as well as strengthening the ‘good neighbour’ brand positioning.

What we should expect from Euro 2016

Many of us may feel that there has not been as much anticipation for this year’s UEFA European Football Championship as usual, with the EU referendum dominating the attention of the media, at least in the UK. However, social media activity tells us a completely different story. Over the last month, there have been more than 3 million social media posts related to Euro 2016 in English alone – over 1 million more than the number of posts about Brexit (Source: OMD Impact Report Euro 2016 – to be launched on June 20th).

I must admit that I am one of that rare species that does not get too excited about football: my interest in Euro 2016 comes from identifying how consumer behaviours are changing. Technology is, as expected, set to play a major role in fan engagement, both with the tournament itself and with marketing tie-ins. This is especially interesting when looking at younger audiences whose attention is hard to retain as they use a plethora of devices and channels with which to consume football. There are four main trends that seem to be gaining traction in how we are experiencing and interacting with sporting events:

  1. Broadcast and live streaming


Television will still lead the attack, but mobile has the potential to take over as traditional television viewership declines, with smartphones and tablets accounting for close to half of streaming views. Due to the rise of over-the-top video platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, sports channels have been forced to think hard about their role in the OTT marketplace.

In the UK, BT Sport has begun a new era of live mass broadcasting: this year was the first time the Champions League final has been streamed live on a social media platform (YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine). Combining TV and digital media, it was the most widely available broadcast of a UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League final ever. BT Sport’s TV channel attracted 4.3 million people for the Champions League final, with an additional 1.8 million from YouTube.

  1. Dark social


As ad blocking rises and consumers reject more traditional ads, brands are turning to content marketing and social media more than ever. ‘Dark social’ (temporary messaging and broadcasting apps/platforms) is increasingly used by brands to engage on a more personal level with fans, creating a sense of exclusivity.

In the lead-up to Euro 2016, Adidas has activated a Snapchat channel, “Originals”, in collaboration with Pharrell Williams. The launch story generated 3.4 million views over 24 hours, with 87% of users watching the story in full. Adidas will also be using Whatsapp to create dedicated ‘squads’ which will go live on the app during Euro 2016. Members of these ‘squads’ will receive news releases before anyone else as well as invitations to events and access to Adidas’ ambassadors, from athletes to artists. Adidas aims to leverage these initiatives to learn, test and optimise dark social media use.

  1. Moment marketing

Duel Screen

Since dual screening has become a habitual activity for the majority of TV viewers, in recent years more advertisers have trialed and developed tools to tailor targeted advertising content on the second screen. With greater data access, brands have the ability to plan and execute a lot more smartly – serving ads to the right audiences on relevant devices at the right times.

HTC was able to capitalise on the emotional moments that mattered most to fans during the UEFA Champions League to further leverage its sponsorship. The brand targeted people with ads on their mobiles during TV ad breaks and at key in-game moments (goals). The campaign saw outstanding results, specifically, a 100% increase in click-through rates and a 47% reduction in cost per clicks.

  1. Immersive technology


Recent developments in virtual reality and haptic technologies have activated new forms of live interactions for fans. As consumers have already shown considerable interest in VR and football watching is traditionally a social activity, brands are investing in new viewing experiences which will be utilised during Euro 2016.

UEFA has revealed that certain Euro 2016 finals will be filmed in VR. It is set to become the first major football tournament to employ virtual reality in abundance, after a brief test during the Champions League semi-finals.

I look forward to seeing how things develop both on and off the pitch as the tournament kicks off this Friday. As Dimitri Shostakovich, a prominent Soviet composer and pianist, once said, “Football is the ballet of the masses.” It is a passion that burns in the hearts of billions of fans worldwide, but it is also a passion that I expect will be experienced differently compared to the past.

Best of luck to your national teams!

For more information about the OMD Impact Report Euro 2016,  contact [email protected]

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