I heard through the grapevine that there was an SMS campaign going on at McDonald's. I'm doing some research now on mobile marketing so I took a quick field trip to my local McDonald's to check it out.

First, I looked around for in-store promotions. None. I began to wonder if this was "one of participating restaurants." I also began to wonder if it was some sort of secret that there was a sweepstakes going on – if you had to be "in the know" to know, you know? I risked it and purchased a quarter pounder with cheese. (I was a bit annoyed that the quarter pounder cost $3.26 and the double cheeseburger was on the "dollar" menu.)

I got my little yellow cardboard box. The top of it said "Take a Shot! You could Win a Trip to the Finals (NBA) 2005." I was at first happy that I'd "Found" the secret short code. I text'ed in my birthdate to short code 49421. Nothing happened. I tried it again. Still, nothing happened.

I flipped the box over – read the fine print. There was a lot of fine print about drawings, dates, prizes, etc. It also said that only up to 300,000 text messages would be accepted. The campaign started on 5/03/05 and is expected to run through 5/26/05.

Had they already reached 300,000 messages? I do know that McDonalds has 30,000 restaurants worldwide and serves 50 million customers a day.

Was my carrier not one of the participating carriers? I've heard that this is a huge hurdle to getting a campaign launched. A number of companies have told me that it takes 6-8 weeks to get the carriers on board for a campaign like this.

What I liked about the campaign:
– Simple
– Integrated with online. If you go to the web site, they collect more information and ask you to opt in for more SMS messages/advertising/alerts for new games, etc.
– Targeted the right audience – youth, urban, basketball fans
– Integrated on packaging

What I didn't like:
– 300,000 entries … not sure what fraction of the 50 million customers buys a quarter pounder in the US each day … and I've heard rumors of response rates for campaigns like this in the high single digits … but do the math … can something like this last 3 weeks?
– Offline advertising – I didn't see any, but then again, I'm not the target audience. Where is it? Why so low key?
– Purpose of the campaign? Buzz? Traffic? Cheeseburgers?
– No "closure" on my entry – was it accepted? are there other prizes?