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McDonald's Hello Kitty Promotion Swee Hoon Ang [1] Robin Teck Joo Yeo Introduction To celebrate what would have been a happy new millennium, the...

1. Based on consumer behavior theories, why do you think consumers were crazy over the McToys? What need does having a McToy fulfil?
2. By offering such toys in their promotion, how has McDonald’s created value to its consumers?
3. Do you think the promotional fiasco with the Hello Kitty dolls and other McToys has tarnished McDonald’s image? Why?
McDonald’s Hello Kitty Promotion Swee Hoon Ang [1] Robin Teck Joo Yeo Introduction To celebrate what would have been a happy new millennium, the McDonald’s chain in Singapore introduced a series of six wedding costumed Hello Kitty dolls with the purchase of Happy Meals. Hello Kitty is the popular mouthless Japanese cat doll from toy maker Sanrio. It is Sanrio’s largest money spinner. Licensed to McDonald’s for its promotion, customers buying a Happy Meal were entitled to buy either a Hello Kitty or a Dear Daniel (her male counterpart) that came in matching wedding outfits at S$4.50 each. For each of the six weeks, a new pair of these dolls was introduced, each featuring a different wedding garb. The first saw the space age wedding outfits to celebrate the new millennium, culminating with the Chinese wedding. Wedding outfits from other nationalities such as Korean, and Malay were also featured. For each design, 400,000 pairs of Kitty and Daniel were produced. Each store received an average of 2,000 pairs to sell, depending on sales volume. Some three months before the first set of Wedding Hello Kitty dolls was introduced, Ms Fanny Lai, Director of Marketing at McDonald’s Restaurants Singapore, commented that although such toys (called McToys) are offered in some promotion, food is still the chain’s central focus. “The toys are sold at cost price and they are seen as a way of giving back to our customers for all the support and patronage they have given to McDonald’s.” The Cat Fight Demand for the dolls was unprecedented. People stood in endless queues overnight just to buy a pair. It was reported that some 250,000 people were waiting in queues even before the outlets were opened. Reports streamed in about fights, unruly behavior, and even molest as people queued for these dolls. Although the police were called in to control the crowd, jostling in the queues resulted in several fights. A glass door at a McDonald’s outlet shattered under the weight of the pushing crowd, injuring several customers. Several people were arrested in the process of purchasing the coveted dolls, while others were fined. There were also instances of fainting while queuing for the dolls. Some of the McDonald’s outlets were also forced to close to break the crowd. Besides such rowdiness among people in the queue, the long queues also created massive traffic jams.
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Besides such physical unruliness, there were also some civic embarrassments. Singaporeans were more interested in the dolls than in the Extra Value Meals. Thousands of the hamburgers were strewn on the roads. People were not interested in eating them. They queued only for the dolls and threw away the meal set that had to be bought to buy the doll. The mindless throwing away of food fit for eating enraged the community. After the first five wedding sets were introduced in the first month, McDonald’s had raked in S$20 million from the meal-and-kitty set. A total of 2.8 million dolls were sold, and 12,000 meals were donated to charities by customers who were more interested in the dolls than in the meals. Here, There, Everywhere Such frenzy, however, was not confined only to Singapore, but also to other countries as well. The Taiwanese population likewise created a frenzy for these lovable dolls when McDonald’s held a similar promotion. In just two weeks, the Taiwan press reported fights caused at McDonald’s. One McDonald’s outlet in a museum closed temporarily because of the chaos. Business Week reported that some 1,000 people waited to get into a McDonald’s in an upscale Hong Kong mall. The hook – a chance to buy Hello Kitty. People who were paying $2.32 for a Hello Kitty with a minimum food purchase of $1.95 did not mind seeing a big return on their investment as similar Hello Kitties go for $15 in local department stores. McDonald’s says the promotion has boosted sales 10% at its 158 outlets – quite a feat in recession-ravaged Hong Kong, where the economy shrank by 5% the previous year. However, such unruly acts did not occur in Malaysia where the outlets in City Square and Plaza Pelangi in Johor Bahru beefed up their securities by installing railings to guide the queue. Instead, the Malaysian fans were more interested in finding out the reason behind the craze in their neighboring country for Hello Kitty and Dear Daniel. Student Ronald Wong, a 22 year-old Malaysian said that he had heard much about the Kitty craze in Singapore and had thus come to see for himself what it was all about. The frenzy was almost non-existent in Malaysia. Inside a Collector’s Mind In the 10 years that McDonald’s Singapore introduced toys accompanying its Happy Meals, 20 million of such meals have been sold. These include 875 different types of McDonald’s toys (or McToys) and they have sold over 34 million pieces. One such series of toys was the Sesame Street Mini Bean Pals. To collect all 24 toys in this series, a
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