People’s Insights Volume 1, Issue 27: McDonald’s Germany – Mein Burger

Germany’s 1st crowdsourced burger

To celebrate its 40th anniversary in Germany, McDonald’s launched a six-month-long crowdsourcing campaign, inviting Germans to make their own burgers online at

McDonald’s Germany had already created many ‘limited time only’ promotional burgers, and wanted to do something different this year. Digital agency Razorfish says:

“We knew that many dreamed of creating their own individual McDonald’s burger. A burger that would appear on the plates of our two million daily guests. So we created a competition and invited everyone to take part. It was time for Germany’s first crowd-sourced burgers. By the fans, for the fans.”

Staying true to the fans

People used the ‘Burger Configurator’ tool to choose from 70 ingredients (bread, meats, sauce) to build their dream burgers, and to give them personalised names.

McDonald’s was sincere in its mission to give control to the fans, and the freedom to choose from so many ingredients no doubt contributed to the campaign’s success.

In contrast, German brand Pril had launched a similar campaign at the same time, which faced severe backlash online for being against the spirit of crowdsourcing.

As Julian Schollmeyer, Client Services Manager, 1000 Heads – Berlin, wrote in his blog:

“Henkel launched a campaign on the net where users could design their own ‘individual’ bottle using a tool set with mostly predefined graphics (i.e. colourful flowers, birds etc) to stamp on the virtual label. The two designs with the most votes would then hit the shelves in October. So far, so predictable. However, having users stamp pre-defined flowers on a label and then hailing it as a crowdsourcing campaign struck copywriter Peter Breuer [who started the backlash] as, frankly, lame.”

Crowdsourcing promotion

McDonald’s further empowered participants to get votes, providing DIY tools to make personalised web banners, video promos and posters. One such marketing tool even allowed people to pit their burger against another, and post this on Facebook.

About 12,000 user-generated marketing campaigns were created, helping the campaign go viral, and 1.5 million votes were cast.

Reuben Halper, Google UK, his blog Five Cool Things, noted:

“It’s always nice to see examples of crowd-sourcing and co-creation done right. To be fair, it’s hard to do those types of campaign in a way that doesn’t feel gimmicky and benefits both the user and the advertiser… It’s all about the execution in this case as Razorfish… provided the tools for users [to] promote their burger creation and encourage their friends, as well as the general public, to vote for the eventual winners.”

New brand evangelists

Five finalists were chosen based on public voting, and were given star treatment. They starred in their own TV commercials, and their burgers were served at 1,415 McDonald’s locations in Germany for a week each. The ‘Just Stevinho’ burger won after the last round of voting.

Not only did McDonald’s gain five new burgers, but also five brand evangelists.

Winner Steve Krömer especially evangelised the brand on his widely-read podcast-blog on gaming, with posts promoting the campaigngathering feedback on TV spotsMcDonald’s customer service and launching the second edition of Mein Burger.

Impact online and in real life

Online, 116,000 burgers were created, 120,000 Facebook fans were gained, and every fourth German online was reached. These numbers nearly doubled in second edition of the campaign.

In real life, the campaign set local benchmarks for promo burgers sold, customers gained and revenue raised.

The results of Mein Burger were phenomenal, impressing even the digital agency that ran the campaign. Norman Rockmann, account director, Neue Digitale/Razorfish – Berlin, said:

“We really did not expect to have this much success with the campaign. The [success] we had was in part 40, 50, 60 times higher than previous successful campaigns.”

People’s Insights on what worked

Firstly, allowing participants to personalise burger names served as an outlet for creativity and, more importantly, as enticing short-form content pegs people could push out while asking for votes.

Nidhi Makhija, MSLGROUP India, noted on the Insights Network, MSLGROUP Community,

“It helps differentiate the crowdsourced burgers without having to scrutinize the ingredients. The burger inventors can name their creations after themselves for an ego boost. And the comedians out there get to have some fun (someone even suggested a “Mc Gyver” burger!).”

Secondly, online communities played a key role in building hype and spreading reach.

In 2011, the campaign gained momentum as people reached out to their personal communities for votes. McDonald’s was particularly lucky to reach online influencer Steven ‘Stevinho’ Krömer.

In 2012, communities such as 9gag, 4chan, MyDealz, and Bronies, helped McDonald’s reach new audiences. In fact, it was rivalry between the communities that led to a huge jump in votes cast, from 1.5 million in 2011 to 5 million in 2012.

Robin Joggarn Törnkvist, top commenter on a meme sharing site, tracked the performance of the rival burgers:

“Score is now: 9gag = 32k [and 4chan’s] Mc Moot = 28,5k.”

A large support group appeared seemingly out of nowhere from the community of ‘Bronies’ – male fans of the American animated TV series ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’. After receiving several requests for votes, German Brony, Sebastian, created and named a chicken burger after the character Scootaloo.

Amused by an inside joke over Scootaloo and chickens, the burger made ripples in the global online community of Bronies. Discussions deemed McDonald’s the new location for German Brony meet-ups as the hype grew, and Sebastian’s Mein Burger entry received the maximum support – more than 160,000 votes.

The fanatic love for Bronies even surpassed the anti-junk food sentiment for some, as is evident in a comment by Brony ‘donstopme’ on Equestria Daily:

“YES! Being German finally pays off!  I normally avoid it, but I think it’s about time to visit McDonald’s again”

Global brand, local relevance

By including traditional German ingredients in the Burger Configurator, McDonald’s was able to forge a deeper, more personal connection with Germans.

As Steve Fuchs said in his blog German Pulse:

“This year’s first place winner has Germany written all over it…The ultimate winner was the Pretzelnator which consists of a pretzel bread bun with sour cream, onions, lettuce, schinken, hard cheese, beef, and cheddar cheese.  What more could you expect from a German creation?”

In two years, more than 460,000 recipes were created and voted upon – an abundance of data and insights for McDonald’s. Indeed, Duncan Cruttenden, R&D manager, McDonald’s Germany, said:

“We know better which ingredients and combinations consumers want.”

McDonald’s may have achieved the right formula with the Mein Burger campaign, and has already replicated it successfully in Austria. The campaign has also launched with adaptations in the Netherlands and Spain.

Local campaign, global reach

Digital is a global medium, and McDonald’s a global brand. As participants tapped into their communities to gather votes, they exposed McDonald’s and the Mein Burger campaign to people across the globe.

The exposure led to positive responses, with several people expressing a desire to travel to Germany to eat the crowdsourced burgers. Others wrote open letters to McDonald’s, begging for the burgers or the campaign to come to the US.

A blogger at Fat Brat wrote:

“Make This Please: McDonald’s Pretzelnator… If McDonald’s doesn’t import this into the US I’m gonna, well…hm well I guess I’ll just be healthy and skinny with little to no cholesterol in my diet. BUT! That is not what I want, not what I desire. What I want is the Pretzelnator, the result of a Mein Burger campaign held in Germany, and one of five delicious custom burgers that was crowd-sourced for this campaign. Bring it home McD’s, bring it home.”

Crowdsourcing campaign, and control

Brands relinquish control when crowdsourcing content, and need to monitor their properties closely, and act swiftly to rectify embarrassing situations.

To echo Reuben Halper, who was quoted earlier in this article, “It’s all about the execution.” McDonald’s and Razorfish did in fact monitor their properties, and were swift to disqualify fraudulent votes and inappropriate content, such as the ‘McHolocaust’ burger. The burger had, however, already attracted a few thousand votes and guilty giggles on meme sharing site Know Your Meme. As Tublorene Jenkins commented:

“McHolocaust… in Germany… I can’t stop laughing, it hurts.”

Crowdsourcing clearly has its benefits, and to be successful requires a team equipped and prepared to retain control in favour of the brand.

Crowdsourcing in the F&B space

To date, several food and beverage brands globally have experimented with crowdsourcing product innovation, to varying degrees of success, including Domino’s Pizza, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and Mountain Dew.

(MSLGROUP’s People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform also enables our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities.

As an example, 50+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on corporate citizenship, crowdsourcing and storytelling on the MSLGROUP Insights Network. Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights and foresights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the iPad-friendly People’s Lab Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities.

As you can imagine, we can bring the same innovative approach to help you distill insights and foresights from conversations and communities. To start a conversation on how we can help you win with insights and foresights, write to Pascal Beucler at

Nidhi Chimnani

Nidhi Chimnani

Nidhi is Director of Research and Insights at MSLGROUP. She tracks digital consumer trends for People’s Insights and is community manager of MSLGROUP’s insights community SPRINT. Tweet her at @nidhichimnani

6 Responses to “People’s Insights Volume 1, Issue 27: McDonald’s Germany – Mein Burger”

  1. max

    Nice, i hope it comes to India too!
    Just imagine Chidu burger, momtha borger with nano fish n burger sauce.

  2. People’s Insights Quarterly Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 3 | Gauravonomics

    […] How the McDonalds Mein Burger campaign became a successful formula to crowdsource product innovation and tap into […]

  3. Anonymous

    […] the full case study on our blog or […]

  4. @theeatgirl

    Sinon, vous savez que l’opé “My Burger” de McDonalds existe depuis 2012 en Allemagne ?


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