Digital Happy Meals now on McDonald’s menu

Developed by Ottawa's Fuel Industries, a CD-Rom featuring fairies and dragons - not tied in to any film, game or toy - will be given to European customers next month, and to North Americans early next year.

McDonald’s Happy Meals are migrating online. The restaurant’s European arm has inked a deal with Ottawa-based entertainment studio Fuel Industries to reinvent the contents of the box that, for the past three decades, has been a lynchpin of its kid marketing campaign.

This spring, consumers will be given a CD-Rom that features four fairies and four powerful dragons. The characters featured are not tied in to any film, game or toy, but are original creations from Fuel Industries. They were developed in 2006/07 as an interactive media property for boys and girls, says Fuel public relations manger Nick Iannitti. ‘The Fairies for girls, and the Dragons for boys, have separate but intertwined story lines that will be integrated into online games, virtual worlds, a television series and a line of toys,’ he adds.

‘Creating licensable properties was [formerly] only a small part of Fuel’s business,’ says Iannitti. ‘Most of our business was agency work that was created for brand partners. When we were asked to pitch ideas for an interactive Happy Meal to McDonald’s Europe, Fuel showed how the property could become a series of digital toys, and immediately licensed four fairies and four dragons to McDonald’s for inclusion in Happy Meals across Europe in Q2 2008.’

Testing in Europe has gone extremely well, says Iannitti, so more than 80 million units will be distributed to boys and girls in 44 countries across the continent beginning April 1.

Fuel is already planning a full rollout into multiple media, and expects to be launching in North America by Q1 2009.

A version of this story appeared in KidScreen Daily