Commuters in the Boston area were treated to a friendly surprise earlier this year when McDonald’s workers stationed in a Boston subway station handed out free cups of coffee and Egg McMuffin sandwiches.

The giveaway, which was filmed, was part of a new localized campaign by McDonald’s franchisees in the New England area. Called the “Good Morning Campaign,” the giveaway provided footage for TV ads running in the market. More ad spots featuring giveaways in other locations across New England will run in the coming months.

“We do feel like the consumer in New England is different and can relate to the local advertising, so we love to be able to connect with them in this way,” says Nicole Dinoia, regional communications manager for the McDonald’s Boston region.

The yearlong campaign is the brainchild of H&L Partners of San Francisco, which just opened an eight-person office in Boston and became the marketing arm of the McDonald’s New England region.

“Consumers respond to the authenticity of the campaign,” says Mark Schaeffer, president of H&L Partners. “These are real McDonald’s crewmembers bringing this massive, global brand down to the community level around New England.”

Steve Walach, a McDonald’s owner/operator with units in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, was one of the owners involved in the planning session with H&L.

“As we talked through out strategy, we thought it was important to take a local approach. We are a series of local business people who operate these restaurants and wanted local customers to think about the McDonald’s in their area,” Walach says. In an effort to extend the ads’ message at Walach’s restaurants, random customers were chosen to receive free breakfast.

Aaron Allen, a global restaurant consultant, sees this as a nod to McDonald’s past, which has included a course on local marketing at its Hamburger University.

“This is a fantastic idea. McDonald’s was truly one of the early pioneers of local store marketing,” he says. “These tactics are important for the global brand. [McDonald’s is] sometimes seen as this huge corporate conglomerate, disconnected from the local community, and these localized efforts help crystalize the brand on the local level.”

Burgers, Marketing & Promotions, Story, McDonald's