Timberlake shoot creates buzz for McDonald's effort

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McDonald's has not yet announced Justin Timberlake's participation in its upcoming global ad campaign. But paparazzi photos from a video shoot and bootleg copies of the pop star singing the fast-feeder's "I'm Lovin' It" theme are circulating on the Web.

Mr. Timberlake's involvement in the campaign was first revealed by Advertising Age last month (AA, July 28).

The pop star shot footage in New York Aug. 10 for an "I'm Lovin' It" video as fans and photographers recorded the action and posted it on the Web. (At deadline, an active link to photos could be found at www.filmmagic.com/GalleryListing.asp?navtyp=gls====32584.)

In addition to serving as the theme for the campaign, "I'm Lovin' It" is expected to be released as a single by Mr. Timberlake, produced by hip-hop writers-producers The Neptunes.

The McDonald's campaign will be unveiled Sept. 2 in Germany, and is scheduled to break in the U.S. on Sept. 29. Some suspect the chain could surprise viewers with an advertising ambush, possibly around MTV's Video Music Awards presentation Aug. 28.

A McDonald's spokeswoman confirmed the chain has talked to MTV. But she said the chain hasn't bought any time during the show. Yum Brands' Taco Bell is the exclusive fast-food sponsor of the program.

One fan Web site for Mr. Timberlake speculated the chain could try to unveil the "I'm Lovin' It" video on the show. While there's no evidence to support that, McDonald's and Arnell Group, the Omnicom Group agency that connected the chain with Mr. Timberlake, are said to have discussed ambush-marketing plans.

video details

In the video, a scruffy Mr. Timberlake chases a leggy brunette down a Manhattan street as he serenades her. The chorus repeats "I'm lovin' it" three times, then "Don't you love it, too?" In what could be a nod to the chain's legendary "You deserve a break today" jingle, the song includes the lines, "You do deserve to get down/been working hard all week."

The McDonald's spokeswoman said the campaign is getting "buzz on the street," but that the chain will not reveal its plans. "I'm sure our competitors would love to know what we're doing, but we prefer to keep that kind of information to ourselves until we're ready to go."

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