- McDonald's is offering a spin on the Friendsgiving tradition with a "Friendsgaming" livestreaming event meant to unite video game enthusiasts around the country, according to a news release. It is part of a new partnership with gaming and media company FaZe Clan and promotes the chain's line of crispy chicken sandwiches.
- At 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 20, FaZe Clan members FaZe Swagg, FaZe JSmooth, FaZe Booya and FaZe Santana will go live on Twitch with a feast where they will reminisce on their friendship and play some of their favorite games. During the event, McDonald's and FaZe Clan will dole out giveaways through Twitch's live chat feature.
- To help fans prepare, McDonald's and FaZe Clan created a Crispy Chicken Sandwich Expansion Pack of co-branded gear that includes a DoorDash delivery code carrying deals on chicken sandwich meals, a gaming headset, phone holder, controller and keyboard decals and an insulated carrier bag for keeping food hot. The merchandise, set to drop on Nov. 4 exclusively at CCSFriendsgaming.com, demonstrates how McDonald's continues to lean into creators and celebrities to generate more appeal with young consumers.
McDonald's is attempting to translate the appeal of Friendsgiving, where friends gather for a casual meal a week before the official Thanksgiving holiday, into the livestreaming sphere with the Friendsgaming concept. Friendsgiving has proved particularly popular with millennials and other young adults whom the Golden Arches owner is eager to engage in a tightly competitive fast food category. At the same time, the pandemic has made in-person gatherings more difficult, while accelerating the adoption of livestreaming platforms like Twitch, which now draws 30 million average daily visitors.
With a spotlight on McDonald's chicken sandwich offerings, the Friendsgaming promotion is the first major piece of a tie-up with FaZe Clan struck in August. Announcing the collaboration — billed as "one of gaming's biggest QSR partnerships to date" — the two companies said they would produce dynamic content delving into issues like diversity and inclusion in gaming, including by profiling individual FaZe Clan members. The gaming-focused collective last week revealed plans to go public in 2022 through a SPAC deal that values the business at $1 billion.
Leaning on creators who are tapped into hobbies like gaming is one way McDonald's can link its brand closer to culture, an increasingly important mandate for marketers who are contending with growing ad aversion and challenges to building loyalty.
"We probably have not, in my view … done enough to lean into the stature of our brand and culture and how we can connect to that," McDonald's CFO Kevin Ozan told analysts on a call last month discussing the chain's third-quarter results. "I think finding properties, finding a message that resonates with youth, but also resonates more broadly in culture for us is a big upside opportunity."
The fast food chain in the past year has introduced more celebrity-driven campaigns to market the preferred meals of stars such as BTS and Travis Scott to consumers. Its Famous Orders platform has buoyed sales and helped prop up a national loyalty program that launched last summer and has already accrued over 21 million enrolled members. But the FaZe Clan deal represents a longer-term bet on the partnership front, with McDonald's seeking to turn Friendsgaming into a new tradition. Gaming is an area where competitors have seen success, with rival Wendy's running a Twitch account that has over 115,000 followers.
Friendsgaming is also centered around bringing consumers together virtually, a tactic that has grown popular as brands and platforms invest in the idea of a metaverse that blurs physical and digital boundaries. To herald the return of the McRib this month, McDonald's turned the irregularly released item — a cult favorite whose elusive qualities underpin its appeal — into a collection of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) that are being given away through a Twitter sweepstakes. NFTs are generally considered part of the metaverse, representing digital goods that people can own and trade.