MCDONALD'S 'BREAK' CAPTURED TENOR OF TIMES

By Published on .

Most Popular
When Needham, Harper & Steers picked up the McDonald's account in 1970, women were entering the work force in record numbers, and those women who did stay home were no longer afraid to admit that they hated meal planning.

McDonald's advertising in the 1960s had urged consumers to "give Mom a night off," and as that decade came to a close, two-income families were gathering less frequently for traditional meals.

"For housewives, as they were called in those days, our research said that eating out at an inexpensive, clean, friendly restaurant would be a treat and a welcome break, indeed," says now DDB Needham Worldwide Chairman-CEO Keith Reinhard. "For the kids, it was really an exciting treat to see mountains of french fries and burgers being grilled and to get a break from vegetables and table manners. And for dads, taking the family out to eat at McDonald's was a relatively inexpensive proposition."

The first campaign Reinhard's agency presented to its new client stressed those themes in a catchy song: "We're so near yet far away, so get up and get away to McDonald's."

The McDonald's marketers loved the tune but didn't get the catchline. So the folks at Needham kept the music -- "It was upbeat, it was show biz, it was so much fun to write to," Reinhard said -- and scrapped the lyrics. When they went back to their research and realized that the word "break" was coming up again and again, Reinhard had his jingle: "You deserve a break today."

The jingle hit a nerve. The slogan itself appeared everywhere in the early 1970s, including a comic strip that Reinhard still has in his office of Henry Kissinger whistling the "You deserve a break" music to Richard Nixon. "As with any good jingle, it got into the popular culture because it's the language of the people," Reinhard says. "They talked a lot about breaks and we played it back in language they could use."

And it moved burgers. McDonald's global sales jumped from $587 million in 1970 to $1.9 billion in 1974 -- the time period during which the jingle flooded the

In this article: