Cannes Lions

Code Moo

CHICK-FIL-A, Atlanta / CHICK-FIL-A / 2024

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Overview

Background

Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A is an annual event in which customers can dress up in cow-themed attire and receive free food or promotional items. Typically held in July, Cow Appreciation Day celebrates the iconic cows, who are a central part of Chick-fil-A's marketing campaigns by encouraging people to "Eat Mor Chikin" instead of beef. In return for wearing cow-like attire, participants were rewarded with free Chick-fil-A menu items or merchandise. From 2020-2022, Cow Appreciation Cow Appreciation Day was postponed due to the constraints posed by Covid-19 and because of operational challenges and marketing shifts. Chick-fil-A needed to find an innovative way to celebrate the beloved bovine friends through digital channels.

Idea

To capture attention, generate interest, and drive engagement, we helped develop a captivating game narrative and interactive storyline in which the cows emerge as unexpected heroes in a battle with their fictitious rival, Circus Burger. In “Code Moo,” Circus Burger is threatening to dominate the fast-food landscape with a big summer expansion plan, so the Cows put out a call for help. Users help the Cows by answering geographic clues that reveal where Circus Burger is building new restaurants or food trucks; using their mobile device and leveraging AR capabilities, users then search through 360-degree panoramic photography of major U.S. landmarks to find the Circus Burger, at which point the animated Cows appear and thwart their beef-cooking nemesis with their trademark (and charmingly misspelled) graffiti. Combining comical animation with geographic trivia, it’s a cross-country adventure full of surprises—and free food prizes.

Strategy

Chick-fil-A’s mobile app is the fifth most downloaded in the QSR segment, according to data from Apptopia, behind McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway and Taco Bell. Our goal was to develop a deeper retention strategy for current loyalty members and an enticing acquisition strategy for new members to sign up, while restricting ourselves to digital so as not to overwhelm restaurant staff with an influx of game-playing customers.

Given that the target Chick-fil-A customer is a parent with children who values family time, it was essential to create a digital game that resonated with both parents and kids, providing entertainment that aligns with Chick-fil-A’s family-oriented values. By developing a geographic guessing game that is easy to pick up and play, and that uses fun animations of beloved characters shown in an entirely new context, Code Moo became a shared, weekly activity that parents and kids enjoyed together all summer, driving new signups.

Execution

Six months in the making, Code Moo launched in late June across the United States, supported by messaging via social, email, website, app, OOH, TV and packaging. We built Code Moo as a mobile web app using React Fiber and Three.JS. Each week, a new “mission” launched, with three new clues that users needed to solve to win that week’s prize (completing all 6 weeks also entered them in a sweepstakes). Users could enter a URL or scan a QR code to launch Code Moo on their mobile device. We used their phone to simulate AR and placed the 360-degree photo around the user, overlaying the 3D Web GL animations to create the scene; users could use the phone’s accelerometer to interact with it. We dockerized the app and deployed it on Chick-fil-A’s Kubernetes cluster, which autoscaled and resulted in 3,000 users per second at peak times.

Outcome

Chick-fil-A has always been known as a fun brand, with the Cows serving an integral role in building brand affinity. After pausing Cow Appreciation Day for three years due to the pandemic, Code Moo revitalized that sense of joyful discovery, with 28.5 million game sessions in the first 4 weeks. When a new clue dropped each week, users raced to complete it; at one point the game was receiving 30,000 requests per second, the highest ever seen in a Chick-fil-A product or campaign.

Enthusiasm remained high throughout the campaign, with an 85% completion rate across all six weeks.

Most importantly, the game drove nearly +50% increase in loyalty signups compared to the same period the previous year. Additionally, it led to the highest ever number of monthly transactions in the Chick-fil-A app. The increased volume of users means Code Moo will continue paying dividends for years to come.

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