McDonald's Launches Next Step in Brand Refresh With 'Signs'
McDonald's saw the sign.
The Golden Arches on Sunday is dropping its next brand spot for the refresh of it longstanding "I'm lovin' it" platform, a 60-second TV commercial that focuses on the signs outside McDonald's restaurants and the messages on the marquee. While they often advertise a new product or promotion, this ad will focus on the signs that show everything from community support to patriotism after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. McDonald's typically leaves it up to local franchisees to post messages on its signs that they think will resonate best with customers, a spokeswoman said.
Part of the reason to highlight the signs was to "continue to tell the story of McDonald's that it plays a role in the communities we serve," said Joel Yashinsky, U.S. VP-marketing, who took that post in March after serving as CMO of McDonald's in Canada. He said that the new spot will help illustrate that McDonald's has to some extent always had "Lovin'" as its mantra.
The ad features the song "Carry On," originally performed by pop band Fun. "Given the strength of its songwriting, we felt it offered the perfect opportunity to showcase their songwriting prowess and our ability to reinterpret it in a raw, emotional new way, sung by a small children's choir," said a spokeswoman.
The Golden Arches on Jan. 3 launched the brand refresh -- a reaffirmation of its commitment to "I'm lovin' it" -- with an animated spot called "Arch Enemies," along with product-focused spots for the Egg McMuffin and the Big Mac, all created by Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett. In "Arch Enemies," McDonald's introduces the refreshed stance on "I'm lovin' it" by taking a general view of "lovin'" by showing characters that have long been enemies -- the Smurfs and their antagonist Gargamel, for instance -- ending their encounters happily.
Mr. Yashinsky also confirmed that McDonald's will air an in-game Super Bowl spot, but declined to provide details.
Viewers of the NFL Playoffs this weekend will see several McDonald's spots. "Signs" will air on Sunday during an NFL playoff game and during the Golden Globes. The other Golden Arches spots that will air dring the playoffs are "Arch Enemies" and ads for the Egg McMuffin, the Big Mac and a new spot for the Quarter Pounder. "Arch Enemies" will also air during the Golden Globes.
Leo Burnett in August 2014 won a pitch for a brand refresh. Mr. Yashinsky said that jettisoning "I'm lovin' it" was not considered. He said he and U.S. Chief marketing Officer Deborah Wahl, who joined McDonald's early last year, "challenged our partners to look at 'I'm lovin' it' and provide feedback and thoughts…. we believe this iteration was something that was right for us and timing-wise was perfect for what's going on in society,"
The brand refresh is part of a much larger strategy to turn business around -- one that includes paring down the menu and improving operation efficiency. McDonald's sales in November were down 4.6%, the weakest in the U.S. in more than a decade. Globally, the chain's same-store sales for the month were down 2.2%. For the third quarter, both U.S. and global same-store sales were down 3.3%.
In addition to the TV spot, the chain will put forth a significant social media effort, particularly on Tumblr, which will house the backstories to some of the signs featured in the spot. For instance, one sign is shown with "Boston Strong," a reference to the 2013 bombings during the Boston Marathon.
Though Leo Burnett is creating the bulk of the ads these days, Mr. Yashinsky said that DDB will release new work this year, as will multicultural shops Burrell and Alma. "This campaign relaunch really is everyone together. It's a great team effort as we turn the business around."