Why is McDonald’s Sweden rewarding people for buying Burger King?

The idea of the world’s favourite burger chain helping its rival sounds bizarre. But read on, and we’ll explain why it makes sense.

In the world of big global brands, it sometimes feels like competition between close rivals is all that anyone cares about. Consider, for example, how Coke and Pepsi have been going directly up against each other since the Pepsi Challenge of the 1980s. Apple famously took on “boring” PCs with their ‘Get A Mac’ ads from 2006-2009. McDonald’s and Burger King have fought the ‘Burger Wars’ since the mid-1970s.

So you might find it strange that in Sweden, you can now walk into Burger King, buy a meal, dispose of the packaging, and then… get a discount at McDonald’s. But it does actually make some kind of sense. Let us explain.

Last year, McDonald’s Sweden developed functionality in its app to allow guests to scan when they throw away their takeaway packaging in the right place; a bin. If they did this, they’d be rewarded with a deal in the McDonald’s app.

Twist in the tale

The campaign was introduced as an incentive to reduce littering in Sweden. It was a collaboration with The Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation, a non-profit organisation that works to reduce littering, both to protect the environment and make cities cleaner and more enjoyable for citizens.

Since the launch, over 160,000 deals have been handed out to guests who used the app when disposing of their packaging correctly.

Now, the app’s functionality has been developed further to scan packaging from McDonald’s competitors in Sweden.

Created by NORD DDB, the new campaign is titled ‘Deal with the trash’ and offers discounts for disposal of packaging from Burger King and the Swedish brand Max Burgers, which has previously forced McDonald’s out of business in several areas.

Doing the right thing

“To have the tool include some of McDonald’s competitors felt like an obvious next step for this campaign, says Sofia Nordström, art director at NORD DDB. “The campaign’s purpose is to maximise the amount of trash to end up in the bin, one step at a time, to keep the streets royally clean.”

You might associate Sweden more with pickled herring and smorgasbord. Still, with 200 restaurants from the north to the south, McDonald’s is Sweden’s leading restaurant chain, so these kinds of initiatives really can make a difference in littering.

As Michaela Bognäs, head of marketing at McDonald’s Sweden, says: “McDonald’s wants to encourage and motivate our guests to do the right thing. Now that the tool has been around for a while, we saw an opportunity to develop it to include other brands as well. We hope more people will be motivated to throw their rubbish in the right place; one step towards reducing the littering of takeaway packing.”

The campaign will be communicated through digital channels, cinema, TV, OOH, DOOH, and print. A series of campaign films have been launched to support the drive, which we’ve included here.

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