OMD Canada: Txt in to Get Toasted – McDonald’s Canada

Talk about a virtual world! This campaign was built around sampling without actually giving out any product.

Talk about a virtual world! This campaign was built around sampling without actually giving out any product.

OMD had just four weeks lead time and zero media budget to crank up the impact of a McDonald’s event sponsorship and connect the brand with its key young adult target. Lori Gibb, VP group director of strategy at OMD Canada, says the idea behind last April’s sponsorship of the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler, B.C. was to try some live sampling, which for McDonald’s is pretty much unheard of. She explains McDonald’s’ quality control makes it difficult to sample outside of a full restaurant – and that the second challenge was to do it in a way that was trackable.

‘This was a unique opportunity [for sampling] and it was very relevant for everybody there. You have a lot of people, they’re always hungry, and they’re not used to getting a sample from McDonald’s,’ says Gibb.

The move that got them high marks was to solve this conundrum by slipping texting into the equation, and using youth’s ubiquitous mobiles as a sampling conduit. ‘It engaged in a fun way. You text in, then get a message, and then go to [the on-site kiosk] to redeem it. It was a good trial to see how we could take advantage of technology but still make it work within our physical reality.’


OMD’s mission was to make the McDonald’s sponsorship of the Telus World Ski & Snowboard Festival bigger, and take the brand from simply being a logo on a banner to an active participant.

Target consumer

Young adults

Insights and strategy

Young adults are so inured to marketing tactics that even an offer of free food has to capture their attention imaginatively. Therefore the Ski & Snowboard Festival was the perfect event for the relaunch of McDonald’s Toasted Deli Sandwiches. The strategy: Get the target involved with the brand: encourage product trial and introduce six new varieties to one of the brand’s key target demos; test how text messaging and SMS can be used in future campaigns; and measure the results.

Consumer touchpoints

• Event

• Place-based signage

• SMS, texting

• Sampling


Txt in to Get Toasted was a relevant event for McD’s to leverage its relationship with title sponsor Telus to reach one of the brand’s key targets and drive trial.

Tongue-in-cheek signage invited the Telus user ‘boarders to send a text to get toasted. The message they got back was, ‘Congratulations, you’ve won a coupon for a free deli sandwich,’ with instructions to hit the on-site McDonald’s kiosk for a product coupon that could be redeemed there, or later at one of the chain’s restaurants. The paper coupons provided McDonald’s with the trackability it needed to gauge the success of the campaign, and helped overcome the barrier of in-restaurant electronic coupon redemption typical of SMS.


Overall McDonald’s sales in Whistler rose by 38% with an average increase in Toasted Deli Sandwiches sales of 12%. More than 7,000 samples of Toasted Deli Sandwiches were distributed during the weekend event. The brand’s first successful use of SMS looks good for future use in event activities.


OMD Canada

Lori Gibb, VP group director of strategy

Paul Henderson, strategy supervisor

Julie Lim, senior strategist

Nitesh Nath, strategist

Cossette Communications

Josh Vanderheide, account executive

McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada

Tracy MacRae, regional marketing manager, B.C.

Vilma Morlin, marketing coordinator, Western Canada