McDonald's Pauses Disney Promotion Over Issues With QR Codes Included in Happy Meal Toys
Buckle up, everyone, because today we're covering a promotion that went just a little bit off the rails. You'll get that joke in a second.
McDonald's has temporarily stopped issuing Happy Meals containing promotional toys for Disney's Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway ride after discovering an error in the QR codes printed on cards that come with the toys. The codes are designed to take users to a contest page, but in some cases did not work properly.
“There is an issue with the QR codes that are packaged with the Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway toys," McDonald's wrote in a brief to restaurant operators, according to WDW News Today. "If the codes are scanned outside of our app (versus the McDonald’s app as directed), they may lead users to an error message, or in rare cases, unintended search results."
— Richard Tamez Umali (@RichTamezUmali) November 24, 2020
In the comments on WDW News Today's report, several users said they encountered issues with the QR codes. One user said the code took her to search results for a staple gun. Other users said they had to manually enter the codes for them to work correctly.
McDonald's plans to reissue the toys as soon as possible, without game pieces.
There also appears to be some confusion with the contest dates printed on the cards. The cards list an "enter by" date of August 31, 2020, but McDonald's didn't begin distributing the Happy Meals until November. Apparently, the QR codes still scan and people have had no issues entering the contest.
It seems likely that McDonald's had planned to issue these Happy Meals earlier in the year, timed with the ride's March 4 launch, but pushed back the promotion after the pandemic forced Disney World to temporarily close. (The park has since reopened at limited capacity.) The contest entry dates were likely adjusted, but the cards had already been printed.
We've seen brands and marketers getting more creative in the ways they deploy QR codes lately. And the medium has seen something of a resurgence during the pandemic as restaurants and other businesses look for ways to minimize physical contact with surfaces like menus. This time around, it simply didn't quite go as planned.