MCD'S TO UNVEIL DDB ADS THIS WEEK: HUMOROUS SPOTS FOCUSED ON BRAND IMAGE ARE KEY TO CHAIN'S COMEBACK

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Brand McDonald's gets the spotlight in the burger giant's first national TV advertising from DDB Needham Worldwide since the Chicago agency won the creative account from Leo Burnett USA this summer.

The humor-tinged spots, slated to break Oct. 3, seek to burnish McDonald's overall brand image while leaving promotional pricing messages to local markets.

The new tagline, "Did somebody say McDonald's?" serves to reinforce the brand name in the face of stronger competition from rivals like Burger King Corp. and Wendy's International, said Al Golin, chairman, Golin/Harris Communications, McDonald's PR agency for 40 years.

"I saw the original stuff on it," he said of the new campaign. "The whole rationale was right on the money. The line will be memorable. I really think it's a kind of line that people will be talking about."

FRANCHISEES SEE VIDEO

A video introducing DDB Needham's approach for the campaign shown to some McDonald's operators in recent weeks included vignettes that draw on relationships the fast-food chain has created with customers over the years, said a franchisee executive who viewed the video.

"DDB Needham has done an outstanding job of capturing the magic moment that is McDonald's," said Bob Conigliaro, community relations manager for Caspers Co., a 40-unit operator based in Tampa, Fla. "You won't be able to keep your eyes dry."

Mr. Conigliaro said that while he's in favor of McDonald's concentrating on the brand, he would have liked the ads to spotlight value, too.

"However, the nation cannot agree on what value campaign is good for the [entire] U.S. What works in Tampa, Fla., may not necessarily work in Seattle," he said. "Trying to get everybody on the same page on value advertising can't be done."

VALUE PITCH ALIVE

Value is being trumpeted for different permanent menu items and test products across the country now, with Cajun McChicken sandwiches at 99 cents in Dallas, and quarter-pound burgers with lettuce, tomato, onions and mayonnaise for 89 cents in markets in Oregon. The Tampa market currently is featuring two Quarter Pounders With Cheese for $2.

According to a Sept. 15 internal McDonald's marketing memo, the shift to local spending accelerated in the first six months of this year. National TV spending, it said, dropped 18% to $191.3 million in the half vs. a year earlier, while local TV outlays jumped 116% to $68.3 million.

David Trossman, a restaurant analyst with BT Alex. Brown, said he expects the new ads will get customers in the door but that may not be enough.

"What they need to do is make sure they get people coming back more often," he said. "The way you do that is you give them fries that are really hot. It's more about the service and execution of what they've got than it is about new products and fancy new things."

QUITE ABOUT CAMPAIGN

Franchisee Pete Pifer, a longtime operator in Springfield, Ore., said McDonald's has been unusually quiet about the campaign.

"This is probably the most low-key introduction of a theme line I have ever seen

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