The Gatehouse Blog

Helping employees get #ReindeerReady at McDonald’s

In December 2017, McDonald’s UK internal communication team partnered with Gatehouse to launch a bespoke internal campaign designed to create staff excitement around the annual external Christmas campaign.

Christmas is a time of anticipation and excitement. In late 2017, our marketing and communication teams were busy planning an exciting customer-facing campaign to put the brand at the heart of the festive season. The creative concept of the external campaign was created by Leo Burnett, our long-term marketing agency, and focused on the build-up of the excitement in the run up to Christmas by looking through the eyes of a little girl and capturing her sense of wonder with the arrival of the Christmas reindeer. A campaign hashtag, #ReindeerReady, was created to engage customers on social media.

We decided that it wasn’t just about helping customers get #ReindeerReady – we needed to ensure that our people provided an excellent customer experience while having a bit of fun themselves. Gatehouse was brought in to produce an internal campaign aligned on the same concept and designed to create a unique and memorable experience for employees.

Multiple agencies were involved in the overarching campaign, including Blue Goose, the agency in charge of ourlounge, our internal online platform. A robust project plan was created along with weekly meetings between all relevant agencies and stakeholders. Because all members of the wider team ultimately had the same goal – providing customers and employees with an exceptional holiday period – it was easy to establish the necessary open lines of communication. Having delivered an internal communication audit for McDonald’s a few months earlier, Gatehouse had an excellent understanding of our different audiences and complex requirements as an organisation – the internal campaign had to be unique for the crew audience as well as easy to use and share.

Elements of delivery

Our challenge was ensuring that every element was aligned with the wider campaign while still targeting crew members. All items were developed to align with this objective, but the internal campaign was specifically produced to encourage our people to embrace, engage and bring to life what being #ReindeerReady means. A challenging deliverable all around!

Another challenge was the target audience. McDonald’s is fortunate to have a diverse workforce with employees falling within a wide age range; however, for an internal campaign, this is a challenging brief as the deliverables must make an impact for many different sub-audiences. With this in mind, the deliverables were meant to be used by anyone; whether you are a social media- end, or you would rather stay away from all things digital.

We decided to create a comprehensive restaurant kit included a series of goodies and fun items. Building on the gaming app produced as part of the external campaign, Gatehouse developed a physical game based on the McDonald’s characters in the app. A finger puppet racing game was then produced, and the ‘Winter Games’ reindeer racing was born with finger puppets, a race track and a leader board to track fastest times. Other items that were created included a ‘What’s Your Reindeer Name?’, a poster that the user could use to decipher their holiday moniker based on their own name; however, what proved to be the most popular were the Instaframes. Different versions were included in each kit and encouraged users to write their fastest Winter Game race time or reindeer name on with an erasable pen. This also tied into the Snapchat filters created by Leo Burnett and reindeer filters seen on ourlounge.

Because of the many different parts of the restaurant kits, it was decided that a short, snappy instruction video would connect the restaurant kit to the external campaign, while also explaining how the items could be used. This was then hosted on the private McDonald’s UK Vimeo channel as well as ourlounge.

We knew from the audit that our people were using closed social groups on Facebook to communicate with their restaurant team and share photos and videos, so we allowed for the sneak peak of the TV advert to be shared on these groups and encouraged restaurants to post photos of employees using the Instaframes. Because the hashtag, #ReindeerReady, was on all kit elements, it further encouraged people to use their personal social media accounts to share their experiences with the campaign. We were then able to monitor social media use and capture this as part of our measurement piece. We also took this opportunity to drive traffic to ourlounge by creating a reindeer-themed photo gallery and conducting weekly polls about the campaign – allowing us to gather robust metrics.

“Our challenge was ensuring that every element was aligned with the wider campaign while still targeting crew members.”

The results are in

As with any campaign, it is imperative to measure the impact, interaction and reach. This was particularly important in this case as the campaign would be used as a baseline for similar work in the future. Before the launch of the campaign, and with input from Blue Goose, it was decided there would be two pulse surveys hosted on ourlounge followed by a 10-question survey sent to all audiences at the end of the campaign. The pulse surveys were meant to capture if people felt they were ready for the campaign and what they thought about the kits themselves. These were short one-question polls that popped up when a user logged in while the survey was a more in-depth approach for all audiences.

Once that survey closed, a detailed analysis took place and a master report was created, which included these findings and analysis gathered from ourlounge, Vimeo (used to host the sneak-peak video and instruction video), intranet and social media. Following the report creation, which included input from all internal campaign team members, McDonald’s, Gatehouse and Blue Goose held a team meeting to review the results and discuss learnings to use as we move forward into the future.

A standout campaign

It was abundantly clear that the internal campaign was successful and launched at the right time and in the right way. People felt the campaign elements were high quality and after the success of this one, they want to see further alignment of internal campaigns with external ones. Pleasingly, the communications that managers received about the campaign helped them understand the objectives and the information was what they needed to execute the campaign in their restaurant. It did sound that while the campaign started out with a bang, sustaining the excitement throughout the timeline proved to be a challenge.

With the full results in and input from all team members considered, we are now looking at how we can continue to improve for future campaigns. We will look to clarify business objectives of the external campaign and how this aligns with our internal goals, consider our key audiences and ways to sustain campaigns with all of them while using the channels we have available. At the end of the day, everything we do is about our people and our customers and we want to ensure we our on a journey of continuous improvement.

“We will look to clarify business objectives of the external campaign and how this aligns with our internal goals, consider our key audiences and ways to sustain campaigns with all of them while using the channels we have available.”


Biography: Linda McGee
An experienced head of internal communications, with a background in retail operations, Linda currently leads the internal communications function at McDonald’s Restaurants to engage, educate and inform people and franchisees about the vision, business priorities and successes. As part of this role, Linda works with remote and diverse audiences, managing communications across multiple channels, and advising senior leadership on their communication.