The only thing more synonymous with a Happy Meal than a hamburger and fries is arguably the toy that comes with it. In a week's time in Sweden, though, McDonald's is set to turn the Happy Meal packaging itself into a cutting-edge entertainment experience.
Wired reported that McDonald's has teamed up with marketing firm DDB to sell Happy Meals that can be converted into fully functional virtual reality headsets. Called "Happy Goggles," the push will see 3,500 do-it-yourself headsets sent out to about 14 McDonald's franchises in northern Sweden. By following cut-and-fold instructions on the Happy Meal boxes, inserting included lenses and situating a smartphone to act as the monitor, McDonald's diners will be able to play a low-budget skiing game for the price of a few Swedish krona.
"We try to bring education to our Happy Meals, and the answer was kind of staring us in the face," Jeff Jackett, marketing director for McDonald's Sweden, told Wired.
McDonald's low-tech virtual reality pilot is just the latest in a long string of attempts to bring the new technology to the masses without requiring massive initial investment. After restricting availability to third parties or special events, Google put its Cardboard headset on sale online for $15 each or $25 for two. Especially as companies like Oculus prepare consumer versions of their virtual reality headsets priced well into the thousands of dollars, projects like McDonald's Happy Goggles expose a much wider swath of consumers than even the first smartphones did. And, with a new technology like virtual reality, which is more important at the outset: profits or public support?
That's not to say that McDonald's is releasing 3,500 virtual reality headsets out of some altruistic push for the tech to become more mainstream. But if a new frontier of interacting with customers is about to dawn, why not associate that with one's brand if it can be done on a shoestring budget?