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By Published on .

McDonald's Corp. is turning its hugely popular Teenie Beanie Babies promotion into an annual event, with a third offer linked to the collectible plush creatures already slated to begin April 23, 1999.

Also on the menu for next year: an increased focus on outdoor advertising, and an emphasis on building the burger chain's brand equity in its national advertising, according to an internal memo to McDonald's operators obtained by Advertising Age.


National ads will communicate the "entire McDonald's experience," and will focus on five core areas -- Big Macs, Quarter Pounders With Cheese, breakfast, french fries and chicken nuggets -- according to the memo.

Separately, less than a year after Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, lost the adult portion of McDonald's estimated $600 million ad account to DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, it is again creating grown-up work for the chain.

Showing up on U.S. airwaves this summer as part of DDB Needham's "Did somebody say McDonald's?" campaign will be three general-market TV spots created last year by Burnett for McDonald's Hong Kong outlets. While Leo Burnett Greater China, Hong Kong, is the lead agency for that market, Burnett's Chicago office had a major hand in creating the humorous ads, according to executives close to McDonald's who asked not to be named.


The 30-second spots have little narration and universal themes, making them easy to translate, one executive said. One shows a teen-ager conducting a school of fish like an orchestra by using a french fry.

Another, which drew loud applause when it was screened at McDonald's annual shareholders meeting last month, shows parents coaxing their twins into the pool by promising a trip to McDonald's.

A spokesman for McDonald's said it's rare for the chain to bring international ads to the U.S., but noted the Burnett spots won creative awards from McDonald's.

David Trossman, restaurant analyst with B.T. Alex. Brown, said importing good ads to the U.S. makes sense for the global chain.

"The best ideas bubble up from the bottom, and if it's McDonald's, they have a bigger bottom than anyone else," he said. "It is a neat way to leverage their network."

McDonald's operates 23,000 restaurants in 110 countries.

Mr. Trossman said this year's Teenie Beanie Babies promotion, launched May 22, appears to be another hit, but without the inventory and publicity problems that plagued the first promotion.

"It seems to be doing very well. The idea is to have it be orderly and have it be organized," he said.

Like last year, however, supplies have been wiped out sooner than anticipated, franchisees said.

The promotion was supposed to last through June 19, but many restaurants are out of the toys despite the chain more than doubling its order from last year to stock some 240 million toys.


In keeping with the chain's increased commitment to local advertising, six local time blocks have been scheduled for next year, five four-week promotional periods and one three-week period, according to the internal memo.

The memo urges operators to use 40% of radio support for morning drive time, and suggests they tout local value initiatives on outdoor boards to complement national brand-building events.

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