McDonald's Serves E-Newsletter to Moms

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McDonald's Corp. has revived a direct marketing initiative called McMoms with a new Web site and e-mail newsletter.


The one-page online newsletter to 10,000 mothers in six states is a regional pilot. Research by McDonald's agency DDB Chicago shows that 75 percent of mothers with children younger than 9 use the Internet as their main source of information.


"The ultimate goal is to drive more business in the door and sell more product," said Neil Berman, CEO of Neighborhood Email, McDonald's Indianapolis-based technology vendor on this exercise.


McMoms first began in 1994 as a quarterly newsletter. But it was not promoted much nor was the tracking technology of e-mail available then.


A mandate of the new e-mail newsletter is to entice mothers to link to www.mcmoms.com and register for monthly online communications, information and coupons for redemption at stores.


Sent a few weeks ago, the first newsletter promotes Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Monkey Ball toy characters in Happy Meals. It has parenting advice, like helping children better organize through "morning boxes" packed with the next day's essentials and freezing lunch boxes.


Quite prominent is an area for feedback on McDonald's new premium salads. One question asks whether the mom has tried the new salads. Another asks whether they know that Newman's Own is the exclusive supplier of salad dressings, "the only all-natural dressings in the quick service restaurant industry?"


Finally, the Oak Brook, IL, chain wants to know whether the e-mail recipient will buy the McDonald's salad again.


"It's revamping its image amid slumping sales," Berman said. "The inclusion of health and dietary information are meant to combat concerns that the fast-food industry is contributing to the nation's escalating problem with obesity."


Just below that checkbox questionnaire is a ranking of McDonald's USA nutritional information. A few inches lower is a way to invite others to visit McMoms.com.


One of the two coupons offered in the first e-mail focuses on healthier food. Users can download a coupon for a free Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait with the purchase of any McDonald's new premium salad. Another coupon offers a free McGriddles breakfast sandwich with the purchase of another one of equal or lesser value.


Neighborhood Email created, hosts and manages the McMoms.com site. It distributes the monthly newsletters and coupons, hosts and manages the e-mail database and tracks activity and results. Bandy Carroll Hellige Advertising, Louisville, KY, is the ad agency on this effort.


McDonald's bought an e-mail address list based on specific demographics -- mothers -- and geography. The participating states are Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee and Illinois.


"Since this is a pilot program, its costs, risks and exposure are extremely limited," Berman said. "Conversely, if this program is successful, McDonald's will probably expand it to a national scale."


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