McDonald’s and Leo Burnett supercharge children’s literacy

  • August 31, 2022

As summer draws to a close, Leo Burnett launch their latest brand activation campaign for McDonald’s, the ‘Happy Readers Book Tour’, to ensure as many children as possible return to school with a book in-hand.

In a bid to get more children reading, McDonald’s is launching the Happy Readers Book Tour, which alongside in restaurant give-aways and charitable donations, will be providing 500,000 free books to children in 16 locations across both the UK and Ireland.

The activation ties into McDonald’s work around children’s literacy and aims to create more excitement for reading by touring areas which, according to National Literacy Trust*, have lower than average literacy rates. Design elements and creative concepting is led by Leo Burnett, with Publicis Groupe production partners This Is Energy leading managing logistics for the bus tour itself.

The Happy Readers tour bus is wrapped with bold, eye-catching Happy Readers branding, all designed by Leo Burnett, with interior and exterior stickers consisting of multiple child-friendly characters.

Inside the bus, free books will be handed out, with different titles catered to the various age groups who will partake in the tour. There are activity sheets for children to work on, as well as digital animation screens to explain the key purposes of the tour, ‘read-a-longs’ to get children engaged in storytelling and free Happy Readers bookmarks, designed by the Leo’s team, to help children with dyslexia and visual stress ‘Read Better’, via the inclusion a helpful reading pane. Outside the bus is a canopy activation space, complete with deck chairs, bean bags, bubble machine an all decorated in Happy Readers branding, all design by Leo’s.

Travelling to these 16 locations as part of the tour are multiple family-friendly influencers, with additional supporting content coming from the likes of Vernon Kay.

In the UK, 1 in 5 children between the ages of 5-8 say they don’t own a book (National Literacy Trust*). McDonald’s wanted to change this by getting more books into the hands of children and their families, continuing to build on the 130 million books that had already been provided to kids since 2013 through Happy Meal ‘Happy Readers’ giveaways.

Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success, according to World Book Day**. Using their scale for good, McDonald’s aim with this activation is to instil a passion of reading and provide a moment of closeness for families to share.

The tour is also sustainability conscious in the way it will be committing to offset the carbon emissions it incurs, by planting 1,000 trees (500 in the UK and 500 more internationally).

OMD is handling media planning and buying, Linney’s is leading on merchandise production, TMS managing the book sourcing and coordination and Red is handling all of the campaign PR.

Since 2013, McDonald’s has been a trusted partner of Children’s Literacy in the UK. In that time, we’ve provided 130 million books to children. And on the Happy Readers Book Tour this summer, we’ll be giving away 500,000 more, in the hope that we ignite a passion for reading and imagination for life.
Alex Martin
Senior Brand Manager at McDonald’s
McDonald’s taking the ‘power of reading’ out to the town and cities of the UK, is a great example of a brand truly taking action in a powerful way. 130 million books given away and counting is quite the feat, there’ll be more to come from us on this topic.
Mark Elwood
, Executive Creative Director, Leo Burnett UK