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  • Writer's pictureEugenie Mae

McDonald's Celebrates Lunar New Year in the Metaverse

Through a partnership with VR artist Karen X Cheng and Spatial.

McDonald’s collaborates with celebrated artist Karen X Cheng to celebrate the commemorate the beginning of the Lunar New Year.

Cheng, who is most well-known for her eye-catching VR work has created a variety of immersive experiences, including an augmented reality (AR) filter that commemorates the transition from the Year of the Tiger to the Year of the Rabbit.

This collaborative project between Cheng and McDonald’s has created a filter that’s available to everyone through a QR code that can be found at the end of their AI-powered television commercial. Inspired by Cheng’s childhood memories of Lunar New Year, this ad is one of the very first of its kind to integrate the use of NeRF (neural radiance fields) tech by utilizing AI to create 3D scenes. In addition to the innovative commercial and filter, the two have also worked with Spatial to provide an interactive and immersive gallery-like experience.

Visitors to the experience can explore various early artworks from Cheng’s childhood, as well as discover works from other featured artists, and interact with several immersive objects.

“We drew inspiration from nature to create a peaceful and calming energy. In VR, the thing that stands out most to me is how visceral distance feels. So we architected with that in mind, contrasting wide open sky bridges with enclosed pavilion spaces,” shared Cheng.

One of the highlights of the space is towards the back of the environment, a room that houses the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, displayed as vibrant gold 3D sculptures. The space is said to be an interpretation of what a Lunar New Year celebration might look like in the future – that being said we are experiencing it now, so perhaps we are in the future?

While visitors can experience the space with any connected device, VR headsets are recommended for the best experience. On January 25, an “all-night dance party” will take place in the virtual space with guests from around the world. Additional events include an evening with Cheng on February 2, where the artist will make an appearance in her virtual self for fans to interact with.

“We know our fans live at the intersection of innovation and culture and that’s where McDonald’s needs to meet them,” said McDonald’s Senior Director of Cultural Engagement Strategy Elizabeth Campbell, adding “our collaboration with Karen X Cheng offers new, tech-forward ways to experience the Year of the Rabbit while also honouring the legacy of the holiday and uplifting the AAPI community. The Golden Arches is proud to kickstart the new year with an interactive campaign that invites our fans to become active participants in a global cultural celebration.”

About Cheng

San Francisco-based creator Karen X Cheng is on the forefront of using AI to design amazing visuals. Her innovative work produces eye-catching effects to social media videos for brands like Adobe, Beats by Dre, McDonald's and Instagram. Cheng's work bridges the gap between emerging technologies and creative imagery, and her inspiration can come from anywhere.

About McDonald’s

McDonald’s Corporation is an American fast-food chain that is one of the largest in the world, known for its hamburgers, especially its Big Macs. The brand’s company headquarters are in Chicago and are known to drive innovation in the fast-food industry. Today, the chain has over 38,000 locations in more than 100 countries globally.

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