McDonald’s is distributing more than 6.2 million tokens called MacCoins in participating outlets of the fast-food chain around the world starting today.
Customers who buy a Big Mac will receive a MacCoin, which is “a limited edition global currency backed by the internationally iconic Big Mac”, the company said.
The MacCoin carries no cash value, but customers can share, collect and redeem the token for a free Big Mac at McDonald’s restaurants in more than 50 participating countries throughout the year.
However, McDonald’s restaurants in Hong Kong are not participating in the promotion, which is meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Big Mac.
McDonald’s president and chief executive Steve Easterbrook told USA Today in an interview on Sunday that Aug. 2 was chosen as the release date for the MacCoins because Thursday also marks the 100th birthday of Jim Delligatti, a franchisee of McDonald’s in western Pennsylvania, who invented the Big Mac.
The idea of MacCoins stemmed from the symbolic meaning of the Big Mac in relation to purchasing power. The Economist in 1986 began using the Big Mac Index to gauge the purchasing power of international currencies.
“They use it to this day,” USA Today quoted Easterbrook as saying. “Why not have some fun with it? Create our own currency.”
The design concept of MacCoins is very similar to that of virtual currencies, except for the adoption of minted coins.
MacCoin’s front side is printed with graphics and text on the celebration of Big Mac’s 50th anniversary. The coins will be available in English, Arabic, Indonesian, Mandarin, Portuguese, French and Spanish, which represent the countries participating in the promotion.
On the back side, MacCoins will be available in five unique designs, each representing a decade of the Big Mac.
The 1970s design showcases the “flower power” or hippie culture during the decade; the one for the 1980s celebrates pop art; bold, abstract shapes will mark the 1990s; the design for the early 2000s will focus on technology at the “forefront of the turn of the century”; and the one for the 2010s “calls attention to the evolution of communication”, McDonald’s said.
McDonald’s operates restaurants in more than 37,000 locations in 120 markets around the world. It sold 1.3 billion Big Macs last year.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 1
Translation by Jonathan Chong
[Chinese version 中文版]
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