McDonald’s and Raptors put their mascots head-to-head

The Raptor takes on Grimace in a friendly game to tap nostalgic sentiment and boost its app-linked rewards.


Like Tom Brady, Grimace is coming out of retirement, as McDonald’s Canada is using the big purple…thing to tap into nostalgic sentiment.

For the new “Game Day” campaign, McDonald’s is celebrating its partnership with the Toronto Raptors by bringing back one of its most recognizable characters for the first time in almost 20 years, going against The Raptor, the NBA team’s mascot, in a game of one-on-one.

The McDonaldLand characters – which also include Ronald McDonald and Hamburglar – were never “officially” benched, but have had less and less of a presence in McDonald’s marketing since the early 00s. Chuck Coolen, senior marketing manager for Eastern Canada at McDonald’s, says the use of the characters evolves to meet the tastes and needs of customers, just as its menu and ordering experience does.

And Grimace is an experience parents remember as part of the QSR’s brand heritage, Coolen says, and that’s the kind of nostalgic focal point it was going for in the campaign.

“Game Day,” which rolls out in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, is nostalgia-fueled, from the soundtrack (“Rock The Bells” by Boyz Noize) to the throwback jerseys – 71 on Grimace and 95 on The Raptor, a nod to the year each character was created. It is what the QSR calls a playful reminder of the iconic legacies of both McDonald’s and the Toronto Raptors.

The Toronto Raptor mascot, meanwhile, has been used in a few activations for its partnership with the team, specifically delivery and an affiliation with its “Beyond the Arch” program, launched in 2018, which gives McDonald’s app users free medium fries when the team drains a specific number of three-pointers in a game.

“Beyond the Arch” has been a “runaway success,” Coolen tells strategy, and really took off during the team’s championship run in 2019.

“Since day one of the partnership with the Raptors, to us, the number one imperative has been to enhance the fan experience – so, McDonald’s combined with the Raptors, to create experiences neither that either one couldn’t create on their own,” Coolen says.

In addition to the 60-second video running on YouTube, a media mix geared towards mass appeal includes 30-second spots for TV and cutdowns for both paid and organic social. The campaign runs until April 11 in Ontario and Atlantic Canada.

Cossette did the creative, OMD is doing the buy and ad spend is in line with previous efforts.