The startup’s licensed products will be placed in more than 14,000 stores across the United States this holiday season, from December 14 through January 10.
How do companies get their products in Happy Meals? And who pays for the thousands of trinkets that go in every kid’s box?
We asked Mind Candy’s chief business-development and licensing officer, Darran Garnham, how he got the deal done.
McDonald's is the world's largest toy producer, and it also supports a lot of entertainment brands, says Garnham.
His team noticed McDonald's recent focus on McWorld, a website the food chain has been pushing. Since Moshi Monsters is both an online social network and a toy maker, Garnham pitched it to McDonald's as a perfect fit for its brand.
McDonald's is a family brand. If you're promoting something off the wall, it's probably not a good fit for the fast food chain.
'McDonald's is an iconic American brand that values family, education and safety,' says Garnham. 'Mind Candy holds many of the same values, and we felt this was a crucial component in developing a successful promotion and partnership.'
It took Mind Candy two years to land a deal with McDonald's.
Garnham says discussions began in 2010.
'The planning and implementation of the program as well as the window for the promotion to take place are all carefully considered,' he says.
Garnham says it's no coincidence that Moshi Monsters will be in Happy Meals during the holiday season.
His team waited until it could land a promotion during prime gift-buying time, which is partially why the deal took two years to get done.
It can be a good idea to create products just for McDonald's, to hook kids on your brand and to encourage them to continue collecting your items once the in-store promotion stops.
'Offering something exclusive provides a bonus for McDonald's customers and featuring collectible items is a great way to encourage families to return to 'collect them all,'' says Garnhan. 'It's an important element in a successful brand-extension program.'
Each Mind Candy Happy Meal will offer one of eight new Moshi Monster toys and a three-day trial membership in the social network.
Moshi Monsters was founded in 2008; it didn't reach out to McDonald's until it was big enough to handle mass exposure. Now its toys will be in more than 14,000 McDonald's stores across the nation.
Many startups and small businesses aren't ready for that kind of attention. Make sure you can handle the surge in orders that will undoubtedly roll in during and after the promotion.
Moshi Monsters and McDonald's both agreed to promote the partnership on TV, in print, and online.
McDonald's is holding up its end of the bargain with a fully-integrated marketing campaign that includes TV advertising, in-restaurant merchandising at more than 14,000 locations, custom packaging, and online presence at happymeal.com. There's even a pre-promotion on the site.
Mind Candy wasn't able to divulge specifics about the quantity of toys that will be produced for the promotion, the cost of manufacturing the toys, or which party is responsible (financially speaking) for the Happy Meal toy production. But it sounds like McDonald's will be producing the toys for the happy meals, which takes some of the cost away from Mind Candy.
'The relationship between McDonald's and Mind Candy is similar to that of a licensee/licensor and Mind Candy does not itself produce the toys,' a Mind Candy spokesperson said. 'McDonald's, as the largest toy producer, produces/supplies the toys for this promotion.'
If McDonald's does cover the production and filling costs, that's huge for its partners. Because if you assume it costs 10 cents to produce a trinket, and each of the 14,000 McDonald's stores sell 20 Happy Meals per day for 28 days, then someone is spending at least $784,000 on products alone.
In addition, Moshi Monsters and McDonald's are both on the hook for promoting the partnership across multiple media channels. Mind Candy has its own website and magazines for Moshi Monsters, which makes promotion part of the deal easier (and cheaper).
But for companies that don't have access to media outlets, it's not clear if they'd have to put money towards promoting the partnership too, in addition to the potential cost of helping supply items to McDonald's stores.