“There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” as the saying goes. But when McDonald’s told Vietnamese consumers that there really is such a thing, thousands did not bother queuing for hours to get the freebie.
A free McDonald’s meal was available for anyone who went through the drive-thru section of the outlet of the world's largest hamburger fast food chain in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City and said the correct keyword.
The campaign ran for 24 hours from 8:00 pm Monday, and customers were required to say “I'm Lovin' It” to receive a free hamburger, French fries and a glass of Coke.
Although the drive-thru service is meant for customers to purchase meals without leaving their cars, participants in the program were required to use their motorcycles, or bicycles.
Long lines of riders could thus be spotted anytime between Monday and Tuesday night in front of the fast-food store, even under the scorching midday sun.
The line included people from almost all walks of life, from white-collar workers and students to street vendors and other low-income earners.
Some said they entered the queue as early as 5:00 am on Tuesday.
“I was standing in the line for three hours to get the meal,” a woman was quoted by Phap Luat (Law) newspaper as saying.
Nguyen Thi Le Hong told the city-based newspaper that she joined the program out of curiosity.
“But standing under the burning sun with thousands of motorbikes emitting smoke was really tiring," she said.
For Hung Nhat, a woman who came with her eight-year-old daughter, once they entered the line there was no way back.
“We were exhausted by the smoke and emissions of the bikes but we just could not get out of the queue,” she said.
The line would only lengthen when night fell, and the campaign organizers announced later Tuesday that they had given away 10,000 free meals and 10,000 small gifts for children.
The Ho Chi Minh City event was part of McDonald’s 24-hour campaign, which was simultaneously held in 24 cities worldwide, where the company wanted to deliver “24 gifts of joy,” on March 24.
The event was the company’s biggest marketing push since its "I'm Lovin' It" campaign in 2004, and was hoped to turn around a global slump in its fast-food sales, according to The Telegraph.
In January McDonald's reported a 14 percent drop in annual profits to US$4.7 billion, the first fall in sales in 12 years. The fast-food chain has not reported a positive sales quarter in its home U.S. market since 2013, according to The Telegraph.
In March the company admitted there was an "urgent need to evolve with today's consumers.”