McDonald's gives zombie-musical hopefuls a taste of fame

McDonald's keeps 90% of its restaurants open 24 hours a day and recently promoted that fact in a town that's also open all night - Las Vegas - by staging an elaborate prank that utilized the popularity of zombies.

Organization: McDonald’s (Las Vegas)
Agency: MassMedia (Las Vegas)
Campaign: Hunger in the Night
Duration: June-August 2014
Budget: $40,000

McDonald’s keeps 90% of its restaurants open 24 hours a day and recently promoted that fact in a town that’s also open all night – Las Vegas – by staging an elaborate prank that utilized the pop-culture popularity of zombies and fooled people into thinking they were auditioning for Hunger in the Night, a fake musical. 

Strategy
An "open casting" was held on June 6, which coincided with that month’s First Friday, a local art walk. Auditioners were working with two real actors and a fake set choreographer and director.

Tactics
A press release announced the faux casting call. It was promoted with billboard and tour bus advertising, and via hashtag #HungerInTheNight. First Friday already attracts thousands of people, making the Arts Factory downtown "the perfect venue" to hold the audition, says James Vance, president of McDonald’s Greater Las Vegas Operator Association.

Results
Individuals who tried out received emails revealing the prank and asking for the green light to use their audition in the video and also if they’d share the video across their own social networks. Participants said "they had a great time," adds Vance, "even though they later learned the show wasn’t real."

Once the video was posted to YouTube, "Hunger in the Night" received more than 4,000 views in 48 hours, says Vance. It was also shared with 2.4 million followers on the national @McDonalds account.

Local media, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal, picked up the story, and Robertson + Partners, McDonald’s Las Vegas co-op ad agency, was featured on a local Fox affiliate to talk about the campaign, adding to the nearly 200 media stories it generated, says Vance.

Future
Vance says the conversation is still going online with @McDonaldsVegas.

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