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McDonald's has collaborated with digital creator Karen X Change for its Lunar New Year campaign.

McDonald’s Lunar New Year campaign taps into AI, AR technology

The chain’s Lunar New Year campaign features creative designs by creator Karen X Change applied to augmented reality settings.

McDonald’s has recruited award-winning digital content creator Karen X Cheng for its Lunar New Year campaign. McDonald’s campaign features creative designs by Cheng applied to an augmented reality filter, a metaverse experience and a commercial that uses artificial intelligence.

On Instagram, users can experience the transition from the Year of the Tiger (2022) to the Year of the Rabbit (2023) through a 3D AR filter. On Spatial, the campaign will extend to the metaverse with a virtual experience that rings in the new year with a dance party Jan. 25, an evening with Cheng (in avatar form) Feb. 2, and more. Finally, the commercial is one of the first to incorporate NeRF (neural radiance fields) technology, according to the company, which uses AI to create a 3D scene using Cheng's designs. Viewers can scan an on-screen QR code to experience the featured artwork as an AR filter.

"We know our fans live at the intersection of innovation and culture and that's where McDonald's needs to meet them," Elizabeth Campbell, McDonald's senior director, cultural engagement strategy, said in a statement. "Our collaboration with Karen X Cheng offers new, tech-forward ways to experience the Year of the Rabbit while also honoring the legacy of the holiday and uplifting the AAPI community. The Golden Arches is proud to kickstart the new year with an interactive campaign that invites our fans to become active participants in a global cultural celebration." 

McDonald's collaboration with Cheng, whose videos have generated over 500 million views, marks the latest in a string of celebrity partnerships the brand has leveraged throughout the past couple of years to tap.

“What you’ve seen over the last several years for us is just finding more ways we can connect our equities … our experience with what’s going on in culture. All of these different things show us a reminder that we are charged with shepherding and stewarding one of the most fantastic equities in the world and we’ve got to find ways to continue to keep it fresh,” CEO Chris Kempczinski said during the company’s Q3 earnings call.

The work has paid off, generating more traffic, buzz and sales at the chain. Earlier this month, McDonald’s noted it will continue to maximize its marketing strategy as part of its Accelerating the Arches 2.0 plan.

“Culturally relevant campaigns are driving growth and elevating the entire brand. We will continue to lean into that strategy and scale platforms across markets to find new ways to tap into the zeitgeist and have fun with our customers,” the company said.

The Lunar New Year campaign was crated by IW Group for McDonald’s. The Lunar New Year marks the beginning of the calendar year based on moon cycles and is widely celebrated in East and Southeast Asia. This year’s Lunar New Year begins Jan. 22 and kicks off the Year of the Rabbit.

Contact Alicia Kelso at [email protected]

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