M.C. Kids, McDonald's Video Game Advertising Strategy
Fast food franchises look for any outlet to promote their products, and as the biggest fast food franchise in the world, McDonald's has placed its products in everything from movies to rap songs. It’s hard to think of an advertising strategy that McDonald's hasn’t attempted in its over 60 years of existence, but one of the oddest was its early ‘90s foray into video games. In 1992, Virgin Interactive released a game for the original Nintendo Entertainment System known as M.C. Kids.
M.C. Kids is a side-scrolling platform game in the mode of popular Nintendo games Super Mario 3 and Star Tropics. The game’s story involves two kids and a host of McDonaldland characters. The story begins when Ronald McDonald's "magic bag" is stolen by the Hamburglar. The two kids, named Mick and Mack, go on an adventure to get the bag back. They do this by finding puzzle cards in various locations, starting with Ronald’s clubhouse and moving on to other McDonald's characters'locations, such as Birdie’s treehouse and Grimace’s loft. In the game's final stages, they visit the moon and a volcano where the Hamburglar is hiding to finally win the bag.
The game was criticized immediately from its release as being nothing more than a McDonald's advertisement targeting children, but M.C. Kids gained a cult following over the last two decades. McDonald's specifically did not have their food featured in the game because they didn’t want to it to appear as a blatant advertisement, but the golden arches logo was everywhere. In 1992, Virgin Interactive also released a lesser-known McDonald's-based game for the Sega Genesis called Mick & Mack: Global Gladiators. In addition, Data East developed an earlier game released only in Japan for the Famicom, another video game console, in 1988 called Donald Land.
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