McDonald's Happy Studio

  • Matt Cane
  • Ashleigh Jacobs
  • Jessica Taylor
  • Daniel Nieuwenhuizen
At a time when faith in the McDonald’s brand was at an all-time low, we brought families back to the Happy Meal by reinventing playtime. Working with education experts and game creators, we redesigned the Happy Studio experience to help kids develop useful skills through purposeful play. It launched in 42 European countries and is extending worldwide as a result of its initial success.

Happy Studio is based on the principles of epistemic play, a theory that children learn best when they’re engaged in experiences that let them behave like real professionals. We believe that encouraging kids to act like professionals helps them to think creatively, make things they can be proud of, and develop their skills.

In the new app, kids can choose to be either an artist, a musician or an inventor, playing relevant games to help them develop the skills associated with that occupation. For example, as a musician, kids are challenged to recognise different instruments and musical patterns to instruct them about different sounds and musical structure and to improve their rhythm and timing. The app was developed with input from child development experts to ensure that the games on the platform help kids to learn useful skills. An accompanying parent portal communicates the platform’s developmental goals, and also provides a resource for parents, suggesting activities that they can do with their kids or challenges to set them to continue McDonald’s Think, Make, Grow philosophy, which informed the new-look Happy Studio.

The platform is launching in 38 European market (42 languages) with plans to add Australia, New Zealand, North America and UAE early 2016.

The UK version of the Happy Studio website and the ‘new happy studio’ application is available on Apple store and Google play from the 16th December.