Notes from the mediascape: McDonald’s launches Avatar AR

McDonald's unveiled its global, AR-oriented campaign behind the much-hyped movie Avatar today. But Canada isn't included in the 3D fun.

There was really only one way to promote a movie that is touted as one of the most highly special-effects driven projects in recent memory: run a campaign that uses the latest and greatest new media tools to engage customers.

That’s exactly what’s happening globally as McDonald’s unleashed its Avatar promotional campaign today. Avatar, the much-hyped 3D adventure movie by Titanic director James Cameron, will be released next Friday, Dec. 18, with a host of promotional partners behind it, including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Mattel. It marks not only a huge push behind the movie by the brands, but one of the first times augmented reality has been used on a global, mass-market scale as a promotional tool.

McDonald’s unveiled its campaign details this morning to reveal an interactive, augmented-reality campaign. It will be rolled out globally in restaurants and online through regional McDonald’s sites. Common to the global campaign will be an interactive game called PandoraQuest, in which users make their way through the fictional world to find objects, and ‘McD Vision,’ an AR experience activated by ‘glyphs’ or symbols on ‘Thrill Cards’ that will be handed out with the purchase of a Big Mac in McDonald’s restaurants in the US through Jan. 7, 2010.

In Latin America, McDonald’s is taking the AR experience even further, bringing it to those who don’t have computers at home by setting up table stations in restaurants so people can activate the cards then and there. The in-restaurant displays will also feature life-sized cut-outs from the movie for people to photograph themselves with. In Australia, the AR glyphs will be included on cups and tray-liners.

Other interactive features of the campaign include a US Twitter campaign from Dec. 7 to 17, in which codes are revealed through the restaurant’s Twitter feed. Consumers can gather the codes and enter them on the McDonald’s Avatar website for the chance to win a Big Mac lunch with producer John Landau.

Canada has been left out of the AR action, with the only promotion here being Avatar toys for Happy Meals.