McDonald’s lovers, rejoice: this month, you could get a little of that lovin’ back. But you’ll have to play the odds right if you want to win some freebies from this fast food giant.
The Pay with Lovin’ campaign takes off tomorrow and runs through February 14, serving as an extended Valentine’s Day celebration for McD’s and playing on its “I’m lovin’ it” slogan. A commercial during the Pro Bowl offered hints about the promotion, but today’s Super Bowl ad — McDonald’s first during the game since 2008 — dishes a bit more.
Randomly selected customers during the 13-day period will be told that their form of payment isn’t dollars and cents, but instead an invitation to “give lovin’” to “get lovin’.” Perform your randomly generated assignment, such as showing off your dance moves or calling a family member to express your love, and McDonald’s will pick up your tab.
Want to score a free meal? Here’s what you need to know:
Pay With Lovin’ Rules
Each McDonald’s location will have 100 winners over the course of the promotion. Winners will be selected during three different segments of the day: 6 a.m. through 11 a.m., again between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and finally 3 p.m. through 6 p.m. Unfortunately, your late night McNugget cravings aren’t going to help you win.
You cannot pay with lovin’ at the drive-through, so head inside your local restaurant. The first person to approach the counter at a predetermined Pay with Lovin’ time will be told they’re a winner after they place their order; once the assigned task is complete, the cashier will wipe away your bill.
The randomly generated “Lovin’ Acts” you’ll be asked to complete are all G-rated, but completion of such tasks is at the discretion of the cashier as long as you share a little love. For example, if your assignment is to call your mom but she lives in a time zone where it’s the middle of the night, you’ll probably be allowed to call somebody else to tell them you love them.
How to Boost Your Chances of Winning Free McDonald’s
Here’s where I read the small print so you didn’t have to: you don’t have to commit to an order right away. The winners can also be notified of their status “if the unofficial winner begins to leave the restaurant without placing an order at the counter.” Simply speaking, you could simply walk up to the counter and ask the cashier if you’re a winner. If you are, you don’t suddenly get to order everything on the menu for free. Instead, you’ll get two Extra Value Meal coupons that you can use any time before March 31, 2015.
While each McDonald’s location will have 100 winners, they won’t all be evenly spaced. The best dates to play are February 2 (35 winners per restaurant), February 3 (20 winners), and Saturday, February 7 (10 winners). The other 10 days of the contest will have five or fewer winners each day.
There’s even a best time of day to visit to increase your chances of winning:
- Monday, February 2 is the big kickoff, so each location will have 10 winners in the morning, 12 winners during lunch time, and 13 winners in the late afternoon.
- On February 3, your chances of winning are slightly higher during breakfast and lunch.
- On February 4, 5, and 6, visit during breakfast or lunch, as there will only be one winner during each of those late-afternoon periods.
- On February 7, there will be four winners in each location in the morning, with three winners during both the lunchtime and late-afternoon time slots.
- Finally, don’t try your luck between 3 and 6 p.m. on Sunday, February 8. There will be no winners during that time.
Why Give Away Free Food?
Why such generosity all of a sudden? McDonald’s had a rough year in 2014, with a long list of challenges. Same-store sales suffered. The menu, which some say had grown out of control with too many items, only recently started to contract. It’s been hard for the chain to keep prices low and still keep up with the rising costs of food over time.
To quell food-quality concerns, the chain now answers submitted questions about the ingredients in its dishes. McD’s is pulling back the curtain on some of its food-prep methods with fascinating short videos. CEO Don Thompson announced just last week that he would be leaving the company.
McDonald’s is also facing some tough competition from newer chains that advertise healthier or more customizable options. But the fast food chain is still number one in the U.S., with far more customers than any of its competitors.
Your Turn: Are you hoping to Pay with Lovin’ this week or next? Let us know how it goes!
This post originally ran on The Penny Hoarder.