MCDONALD'S OVERHAULS GLOBAL ADVERTISING STRATEGIES

Changes Tagline, Plans 'Borderless' Creative Procurement Philosophy

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- McDonald's Corp. unveiled a new global marketing theme -- "I'm Lovin' It" -- and a new strategy for managing its creative advertising needs
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today at the company's worldwide marketing conference here.

The new tagline will replace the current "Smile."

10 countries
The new selling theme is the result of a competition among 14 agencies in 10 countries, according to the fast-food chain. The winning concept was developed by Germany-based Heye & Partners, a member of Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide Communications Group.

Juergen Knauss, Heye & Partner's CEO, said the theme has worldwide appeal that evokes the "simplest pleasures of daily life," works in all languages and uses optimistic and authentic storytelling to position the brand as a lifestyle rather than a meal.

The new slogan will be the "strategic glue" of a two-year integrated global marketing calendar. Executives said it is the first time the company has ever had a two-year marketing calendar. It is also the first time the company will conduct such global promotions.

Integrated creative
McDonald's global chief marketing officer, Larry Light, said creative from all participating agencies will be integrated into the new plan. The new approach will use creative teams from around the world to adapt local executions to the global direction, using a unified creative style, music and slogan.

Brushing off comparisons to Coca-Cola Co. and Anheuser-Busch agency models, Mr. Light insisted that McDonald's "borderless approach" to getting the best ideas won't create winners or losers among agencies.

"We told agencies that whether you win or lose, you're not going to get more billings or less billings," he said in an interview with Adage.com.

Bonus structure
"We're trying to develop a culture," Mr. Light said. He wouldn't explain the agency compensation philosophy other than to say there is a bonus structure the company has begun as part of the new process; the primary way for agencies to grow billings was "through growing our business," he said.

Mr. Light was quick to note that no one agency had all of the ideas. "Every agency had some great ideas," he said in a conference call with reporters. Calling the approach "freedom within a framework," Mr. Light said the theme allows for "local market entrepreneurship within the parameters of McDonald's new direction."

He acknowledged the new model may take some getting used to by roster agencies. "I understand some egos may get in the way for a while, but we ... are telling people they must be creative, but they must be creative in global framework."

Arnell Group
Mr. Light confirmed he has met with Omnicom's sibling Arnell Group, New York, along with "several resources" the marketer is considering for promotional work, but said "no decisions have been made and nothing was final." He wouldn't comment on the other agencies he is considering.

"We will be looking at outside resources for promotional activities," he said. "We do expect to expand our vision for how we communicate our brand beyond traditional media in prime time."

Part of that integrated approach includes collaborating with top global music talent and using music videos, print and other aspects still in development, Mr. Light said, adding that marketing budgets won't change but some allocations will.

Standardized global measures
Each agency's idea was rated against a set of standardized global measures that, going forward, will be reviewed quarterly by marketing management and occasionally by McDonald's board of directors. Those metrics will serve as the basis for agency bonus compensation.

Charlie Bell, president and chief operating officer, said today's meeting launched a "new era of marketing" in which operational excellence and leadership marketing are top priorities in the burger giant's growth strategy.

"We are truly leveraging our creative power and aligning our marketing force," he said.

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