Mobile has the ability to take big brands from mass marketing to mass personalization: Matt Biespiel, McDonalds, Q&A

McDonald’s is the world’s largest fast-food restaurant chain and one of the biggest advertisers on the planet with global and local campaigns spanning all imaginable media channels. Its digital and mobile campaigns often win acclaim (see this round-up of digital/mobile excellence here from Econsultancy). It has numerous mobile sites e.g. and apps e.g. McD App, to help mobile users find restaurants, apply for jobs and recoup vouchers.

In this interview, McDonald’s senior director for global brand development, Matt Biespiel, shares some insight into what a giant brand famous for its mass market branding – think of that instantly recognizable logo and memorable tag line – wants from mobile: personalization and long-term engagement. It is interesting to note his recognition that brands need mobile strategists rather than the sort of advisers that push clients towards the latest mobile craze; and that even a brand of this stature struggles to find experts with the right skills.

Biespiel is the keynote speaker at Mobile Media Summit Chicago, July 29, 2014 (mobiThinking readers can claim a 10 percent discount for this event with promotional code MOBI10).

As you may have noticed, McDonald’s was a sponsor of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, so by way of illustration, mobiThinking has inserted a McDonald’s video showcasing the extraordinary football skills of tomorrow’s (possible) superstars. (…Any excuse). The video contains a link to McDonald’s Gol, an augmented reality app that enables McDonald’s customers to try to emulate – virtually – the brilliance of the young footballers captured in the video. See the video demo further below. It’s a good illustration of how mobile brings engagement and in-restaurant entertainment to accompany video’s one-way mass appeal.

Q1. What do you see in the future for advertising?
I can’t think of a more exciting time for the industry with emerging technology, new consumer mindsets, screen management, shifting from interruption to engagement, etc. These changes force clients and agencies to think differently. At the same time, some things won’t change, such as telling compelling stories and fostering emotional bonds between brands and customers.

Q2. What do you think is the biggest challenge in mobile advertising… and the biggest opportunity?
Finding exceptional talent is both a challenge and opportunity. We need people who can separate true strategic opportunities from the latest shiny object. For a large brand like McDonald’s, people are needed who can help us move from mass marketing to mass personalization.

Q3. What is the one thing that gets you most excited about mobile?
Mobile has the ability to drive mass personalization by giving people access to engaging content right at their fingertips from wherever they are. As a marketer, it’s thrilling to watch engagement escalate in real time.

Q4. Is the millennial generation changing the way companies do advertising and marketing?
Every generation presents new opportunities and forces brands to creatively identify new ways to reach them. Millennials carry the world in their pockets, they are always connected. For them, sharing is like breathing and they identify with brands that speak to them in a credible way.

Video demo: McDonald’s Gol, an augmented reality app.

Q5. How does McDonald’s keep its brand so strong?
Clarity of purpose and a restless energy to evolve with cultural shifts is one way the brand stays strong. We’re constantly exploring the healthy tension between brand fit and brand stretch.

Q6. What is McDonald’s secret to keeping the “I’m lovin’ it” brand alive?
We treat “I’m lovin’ it” as an intangible brand asset. And just like the brand, it stays alive and relevant on a global basis through constant evolution.

Q7. What’s the biggest mistake in mobile marketing?
Eecuting a program simply because the technology exists versus executing a program because it makes sense to customers and is true to your brand strategy.

Q8. What makes mobile marketing different for your company compared to others?
A growing number of people would rather lose their wallet then their mobile device. This speaks volumes about just how intimate and personal mobile has become. For McDonald’s, mobile gives us the opportunity to shift from marketing at people to creating marketing for people. It’s a true mind shift.

Q9. What are your projections for growth in brands’ mobile-marketing spend? What has to take place to ensure this happens?
Since there are endless possibilities and new technology continues to spur further innovation, one could certainly anticipate that spending will rise.

Q10. How long have you been involved with the DuPage Community Foundation, in Illinois? What made you join the foundation?
Giving back is part of the McDonald’s culture and also important to me. The DuPage Community Foundation is a somewhat hidden gem in the Western Chicago suburbs. The Foundation is focused on improving the quality of life in the county and matching donors with dozens of causes. They are interested in taking their marketing to another level and I thought that I could help.

This interview with McDonald’s Matt Biespiel was conducted by Paran Johar, CEO and organizer of the Mobile Media Summit Chicago, July 29, 2014. mobiThinking readers can claim a 10 percent discount for this event with promotional code MOBI10).

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