In Munich to unveil the launch ads from Heye & Partner, Unterhaching, Germany last week, McDonald's Global Chief Marketing Officer Larry Light enthused about the fast-feeder's openness to marketing ideas from all countries, and told Advertising Age that the company's next ad wave will come from China.
The five initial spots from Heye, a unit of Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, which Mr. Light described as "the little village that did," run until November. Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett China team was one of many agencies around the world that submitted creative concepts, and one of their ideas-the agency would not specify which-will be developed to run internationally after November, most likely breaking in early 2004.
McDonald's is also considering having idea competitions for global Big Mac and french fry spots, according to executives close to the company.
In Munich, a crowd of McDonald's staff, franchisees, suppliers and local glitterati were greeted by a very German Ronald McDonald saying, "Welcome at McDonald's."
In the absence of Justin Timberlake, who does vocals in the new spots, dancers performed a routine to his "I'm lovin' it" soundtrack. But the evening's real star was Jurgen Knauss, Heye's managing partner-CEO.
"Everyone knows the thinnest book in the world is the book on German humor," he said. But he nonetheless amused the audience with the story of how shocked he was to hear on June 21 that his agency had beaten 14 competitors worldwide to launch McDonald's first global campaign. His next shock was even bigger: It had to be ready by Sept. 2.
Touring Heye the next day, Mr. Knauss explained the secrets of its 32-year partnership with McDonald's by showing an irreverent film that opened with a clip from "Spartacus," set in the galley of a slave ship with hundreds of sweating, naked men in chains rowing 24-hours a day to keep the giant vessel moving. A tongue-in-cheek commentary thanked McDonald's for the pleasant working conditions and generous lead times.
Mr. Light smiled politely. Nothing dampened his spirits or belief in the campaign. He chatted about interviewing Mr. Timberlake's mother, to make sure nothing sordid lurks in the young superstar's background to ruin the $6 million endorsement deal. Mrs. Timberlake assured Mr. Light that Justin had always been a good kid, but made no promises for the future.
To bring the "I'm lovin' it" theme to life, McDonald's will invite its 1.6 million employees worldwide to submit alternative rap soundtracks to the commercials, with the winner performing his or her rap on MTV.
contributing: normandy madden and kate macarthur