It's not only all the bad publicity -- for a big part caused by the movie "Supersize Me" -- that made this new strategy necessary. McDonald's is simply following the health-conscious consumer. In itself an understandable move. After all, marketing is about adjusting your product (and communication) to the desires of your consumers. It's comparable to today's SUVs being advertised as "green."
The animated commercials that drive this campaign explain what a Big Mac is really made of. In one of the animations you see a cow in a huge meadow. A voice-over tells us that at McDonald's the burgers are made of 100% beef and not from kangaroo. The cow partly changes into a kangaroo and hops off -- I suppose as if to show how ridiculous it would be if the burgers weren't made of beef.
The voice-over says that it's not just any beef; only the best parts of the cow are good enough for the Big Mac. In another spot the narration explains that the only thing added to the beef is a little pepper and salt. But this, of course, is not the full story. As a critical consumer, I immediately think about the big blob of sauce on top of this honest piece of meat.
In any case, there's something contradictory about this new campaign. The new pay-off sounds quite educated and thus targeted at -- let's say -- a more sensible customer. At the same time the cartoonesque execution and tone of voice is pretty immature (of course the Big Mac doesn't contain kangaroo meat) and even implausible (only the best parts of a cow that has lived a happy life in a huge meadow are used for the Big Mac). So I strongly wonder whether the ingredient-conscious customer buys this message.
The previous McDonald's campaigns -- also made by TBWANeboko -- were based on the international tagline "I'm loving it." While I personally don't love McDonald's and only eat it when I've been in countries like Nicaragua or Indonesia for too long and am craving for some Western food, I think the "I'm lovin' it" pay-off conveys McDonald's brand essence very well. People go to McDonald's to indulge their selves. They know it's not the most healthy food yet they love it. McDonald's neglects the importance of this insight and seems to forget where it has come from. As my first ad boss always told his clients, never forget what made you famous.
So what I like about this campaign is that it makes a clear strategic choice. And it will thus probably give McDonald's a healthier image. However, if it continues into this direction, it might alienate the typical McDonald's family that goes there to score a happy meal and a toy that's made in China. At the same time, the more sensible, ingredient-conscious consumer to whom McDonald's seem to be talking will either never eat McDonald's -- because the brand is simply not in the evoked set -- or will get very irritated by the incredible message. And that would be a lose-lose situation.
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