Posts Tagged ‘McDonald’s’

McDonald’s French Fries Commercial Is a Keeper

November 29th, 2011

When I was first starting out in the wonderful world of marketing, McDonald’s was one of the most creative and effective advertisers in the world.  For years their ads simultaneously tantalized your taste buds and tugged at your heartstrings, and they played a huge role in clearly elevating the brand far above all fast food competitors.  Sadly, it’s been at least 10 or 15 years since McDonald’s so consistently worked its marketing magic.

Recently, however, I’ve been seeing some signs that the old magic might be returning.  Perhaps the most encouraging example is their current  french fries commercial. This warmly-shot spot is charming in its simplicity, and the surprise ending makes me smile no matter how many times I see it.

This could have featured a customer saying “I love McDonald’s fries” or an announcer citing statistics documenting how McDonald’s fries are preferred over the competition’s at a statistically significant level of confidence.  Obviously, however, such flat-footed approaches couldn’t come close to the impact of having three kids running and riding full-speed off a dock in pursuit of a McDonald’s  french fry on the end of a fishing hook.

To me, this spot both reminds me of how delicious McDonald’s fries are and makes me like McDonald’s just a little bit more.  It’s highly entertaining yet almost believable. In short, it’s the ultimate fish story.

McDonald’s New Ads: I’m Not Lovin’ It

April 24th, 2010

The good news:  here’s a sneak preview of three new spots from McDonald’s. The bad news:  here’s a sneak preview of three new spots from McDonald’s.

From the Advertising Age column that reported on the ads, it looks like McDonald’s considers them to be a major breakthrough, but I’m not buyin’ it.

Describing the chain’s “I’m Lovin’ It 2.0″ campaign (which she termed “our multi-billion dollar asset”), McDonald’s CMO said, “We’re bringing it out from behind the arches and into the action to better brand and celebrate those uniquely McDonald’s moments.” Well, I guess that sounds like something a CMO would say, but the words don’t match the reality, at least in my world.

Maybe it’s just me, but the image of a bear terrorizing motorists and destroying a car doesn’t strike me as a “uniquely McDonald’s moment.”  Instead, this TV spot just reminds me of horrific news reports of such things that have actually happened; it certainly doesn’t make me smile or give me a warm and fuzzy feeling, nor does it make me crave McDonald’s food.  The second TV spot, which shows a dad continually going around the drive-through without stopping so as not to wake his sleeping baby, was a little better.  But it evoked only a slight and brief smile rather than the ear-to-ear grin it worked so hard for, and once again it didn’t do anything to whet my appetite.  And the three-minute online video showing thousands of teens and twenty-somethings around the world paying homage to the Big Mac struck me as clueless egotism. McDonald’s employees might get all choked up when they think about all the Big Macs they sell, but I don’t think the typical consumer gets all that excited or emotional about the topic.  I also couldn’t help thinking that most of the slim-waisted female celebrants depicted in this big-budget, narcissistic spectacle wouldn’t go near a Big Mac.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this video were pitched to the client as McDonald’s version of Coca Cola‘s legendary “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” commercial from nearly forty years ago.   If so, that pitch is as bad an example of truth-in-advertising as is this three-minute video.  “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” worked because the spot celebrated humanity, which is something worthy of celebration; the new McDonald’s video doesn’t work because it celebrates a 576-calorie sandwich.

While I’m piling on, I’d also like to take issue with the notion that “I’m Lovin’ It” has been a hugely successful campaign, although I’m admittedly relying purely on anecdotal evidence.

Anecdote #1: I can’t personally recall a single McDonald’s ad from this from the past several years; they’re all part of a big blur.

Anecdote #2: I have never heard anyone–not one person–ever make a reference to the “I’m Lovin’ It” line.  When you’ve invested that much time and money in your advertising, it seems to me it should be part of your target audience’s everyday conversation, like Nike’s “Just do it” or Wendy’s decades-old “Where’s the beef?”  Let me ask you:  Of all the times you’ve chosen to express your pleasure with something over the past five or six years, have you ever once said, “I’m lovin’ it”?

Anecdote #3:  I think “I’m Lovin’ It” is one of the least interesting, least provocative taglines in recent memory.  Great taglines are clever and maybe even have a little double entendre working for them; “I’m Lovin’ It,” on the other hand, is just an unimaginative way to say “I really like this product.” Isn’t that what every advertiser wants you to think?  Then why are we supposed to find the McDonald’s message interesting or motivating?

In contrast, I can’t tell you how many times my buddies have uttered the words “the most interesting man in the world” or “stay thirsty my friends”, yet Dos Equis has likely spent a fraction of one percent of what McDonald’s has spent.  The difference?  While Dos Equis’ words tell an engaging story and reflect a distinctive idea, McDonald’s flatfooted words provoke nothing but indifference.

So count me as someone who has never loved–or even liked–”I’m Lovin’ It.”  And someone who’s giving “I’m Lovin’ It 2.0″ a 2nd floor rating.

Starbucks Bucks Mac Attack

August 5th, 2009

In announcing Starbucks’ recent quarterly financial results, CEO Howard Schultz announced that the company’s coffee sales have actually been helped by the efforts of McDonald’s to eat into its market share. It turns out McDonald’s actually got more people thinking about coffee, and that many of them decided to get theirs at Starbucks rather than McDonald’s.

This anecdote reinforces two long-established and still-relevant tenets of marketing strategy. First, if you suddenly face a new competitor or an existing competitor that decides to up its aggressiveness, it’s often a good thing. The stepped-up competition will raise awareness of your category, and if you’re good at what you do, you should benefit from the increased exposure. There’s no need to panic, and certainly no need to do something rash like slashing prices to defend your turf.

Second, if you decide to enter a new category or ramp up your aggressiveness in an existing category, don’t do it by attacking the market leader. Not only are you likely to help them by by virtue of the attention you generate for them, you’ll come across as a poor knock-off at best or a cheap-shot, low-blow artist at worst. Instead of making your story what’s wrong with the market leader, make it what’s right with you.

As the late rocker (and marketing maven) Jerry Garcia once advised, don’t try to make people think you’re the best at what you do; make them think you’re the only one who does what you do!

McCafé Advertsing: A Real Debaclé

May 26th, 2009

If the latest TV advertising from McDonalds’ McCafé coffees is any indication, this might be a good time to start buying stock…in Starbucks.

As everyone knows, McDonalds is targeting the Starbucks customer, which in and of itself might make sense if handled deftly. However, if they think their lame ads are going to appeal to the die-hard Starbucks lover, they’re apparently drinking immense quantities of kahlua and tequila along with their McCafé coffee.

Starbucks is many things, including extremely clever, and these new McCafé ads are anything but. In fact, they are possibly the least clever thing on TV right now; their inane conversion of “commute” to “commuté” (pronouced “comm-yu-tay”) and “cubicle” to “cubiclé” (pronounced “cue-bih-clay”) are not only neither amusing nor interesting, they’re virtual fingernails on a chalkboard.

The fact is that to make a serious dent in Starbucks’ market share, McDonalds needs to approximate or surpass not only the taste of Starbucks’ coffee but the cool aura of their brand image. From what I’ve heard, McCafé coffee tastes nothing like Starbucks’, and from what I’ve seen, they have even less of a chance of approaching the power of Starbucks’ brand equity.

In this economy, Starbucks is facing no shortage of significant challenges, but at this point it doesn’t look to me like McDonalds will be one of them.

The King Is Dead. Long Live…McDonalds?!?

May 18th, 2009

A few weeks ago I ranted about Burger King’s latest horrendous TV ad in a post titled, “I Hate Bad Ads and I Cannot Lie.” I must admit that I just took some pleasure in reading an article titled “A Royal Headache at Burger King” in the May 25, 2009 Business Week. Among the many marketing gaffes cited by the article is the SpongeBobSquarePants ad that was the source of my ire. Now, as a result of this and other marketing misjudgments by Burger King and its ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Burger King’s sales are suffering while competitor McDonalds is experiencing relatively healthy growth.

Burger King’s franchisees are particularly furious about the SpongeBob ad, which prompted 10,000 letters from angry consumers (not to mention one post from an angry blogger) and failed to boost sales despite a big advertising budget.

To be fair to Burger King, any successful company has to take risks, and that sometimes includes running ads that at first blush might seem inappropriate but eventually have a positive impact. The key, however, is to be able to differentiate between those risks that are likely to pay off and those that will likely bomb. Unfortunately, Burger King and its agency have not been demonstrating that particular skill of late, and their franchisees and stockholders are now paying the price.