McDonald’s Hosts Idol-Style Competition for Employees

Is the age of the corporate reality show upon us?

Is McDonald's giving employees business cards now? Not exactly. But the fast food giant – which has often taken flak for defining the 'Mcjob' – isn't as indifferent to employees as you might think.

For the third year in a row, McDonald's is running its Voice of McDonald's event, an American Idol-style singing contest that any employee the world over can enter. The last two years of the competition – previously an internal affair – have been so incredibly successful that McD's is going viral with the event.

Videos profiling the finalists will be posted online today, and viewers will be able to vote on their favorites. Once the national winners are declared, twelve global finalists will compete at the McDonald's 2010 Worldwide Convention in Orlando. Last year, the competition was far and away the highlight of the convention, hence, the effort to bring it to the public.

While McDonald's has always been a strong print advertiser, the company has never really had the ad oomph of edgier fast food brands like Burger King and Jack-in-the-Box. However, this campaign shows real promise. Not only does it promise to reveal a more personable side of the clown, it shows that the company is tapped in to what interests people.

While working at McDonald's has long been synonymous with the ultimate in thankless minimum-wage obscurity, reality television has become the ultimate Cinderella story, wherein anyone can be pulled out of the mundane grind and turned into a star. Combining the two is truly marketing genius.

If the McDonald's promotion is a success, I wouldn't be surprised to see large companies running more reality show-style competitions of this type. If done properly, it has the potential to provide truly fascinating and humanizing looks into the internal dynamics of corporations that have thusfar remained faceless despite the online commerce revolution.

Of course, if done wrong, this will be just another exercise in pouring marketing dollars down the black hole of maintaining a perfectly bland corporate culture.

While most of the promotion for the contest is going to involve a social media blitz, McDonald's is making the usual investment in print ad buys, and even encouraging individual branches and contestants to do their own guerilla advertising. Posters, flyers, and business cards are provided on a resources page for employees and managers to print themselves.

Of course, anyone who really wants to win this thing should have their contest collateral printed through Hotcards. It might be two days salary now, but just think how small that $60.00 investment will look after you've won the $25,000 grand prize!

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