McDonald's tests ads that focus on service

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McDonald's Corp. is testing advertising that puts a new spin on an old theme: better service.

In Tampa and Seattle the chain is testing a campaign touting its efforts to improve service in stores and its drive-thru. National agency Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago, created two TV spots and one radio execution that promises "we're working hard to bring you cleaner restaurants and friendlier service."

In one execution, crew members multitask between washing windows and helping customers, while another spot trumpets the order screens at the drive-thru. "At McDonald's, we're on it!" the spots proclaim. Additional executions are expected to break this month featuring actual crew members and store management from the Tampa area.

The effort comes as McDonald's seeks a successor to its 27-month-old "Smile" effort. A spokesman said the ads "continue to improve categories like service in pleasing customers and improving the customer experience."

He wouldn't confirm McDonald's for the campaign in the future should the test succeed. "It could be national, but it could be a shelf promotion for markets to use as they see fit," he said.

While the ads have a similar feel to McDonald's legendary "You deserve a break today" campaign, one agency executive doubts it will go national.

difficult task

"Communicating service on a national basis is very difficult," said the executive. "You can't tell people you're doing better, you have to show it."

"You have to back it up with major training programs," said Joe Casper, a Tampa-based franchisee with 52 units who supported the service campaign, first conceived in the spring. He said the company picked up the production costs with the blessing of Mike Roberts, the president of McDonald's USA. "It's communicating something that's changed at McDonald's." He said it was too early to tell whether the campaign is working, but said in December, "We'll end up positive in transactions. It will be the first time for my organization in two years."

Whether the effort leads to campaign to replace "Smile," he didn't know. "There was talk six months ago about having a new campaign at the beginning of the year, but it was put on the back burner because of Dollar Menu."

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