Advertising Week

McDonald's and DDB Take Stage to Discuss New Agency

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While the new Omnicom Group agency dedicated exclusively to McDonald's still remains unnamed, the fast-feeder's CMO Deborah Wahl and DDB North America CEO Wendy Clark discussed the ins and outs of the new relationship during a panel at Advertising Week.

Last month, McDonald's awarded a DDB-led Omnicom team its U.S. creative account after 35 years with Publicis' Leo Burnett Co., and Ms. Clark said the RFP for the business, which came at the holding company level, was "voluminous."

She said she had hundreds of people from almost 20 different agencies within Omnicom working on the brief for 16 weeks. "It was breakneck, but it was good," said Ms. Clark.

Ms. Wahl said the brand decided to review its internal and external creative processes because the "world is changing dramatically and so is the way we engage customers." McDonald's developed 2,500 pieces of creative content in 2015. This year, the company has already created 5,000 pieces. In addition to reorganizing the way it creates and pushes out content, McDonald's wanted to make sure it had a strong "human intelligence" approach to its data to help add cultural context.

"No matter what medium or device, we're still looking for strong creative and engagement," said Ms. Wahl, adding that it was "time for a brand-new model."

Briefly touching on the pay-for-performance measures that McDonald's put into the contract, Ms. Wahl said the brand was "aggressive" in its RFP, but that it had "profit built in."

"While we wanted a profit-based system, it was to make sure there was a lot of room for growth and advantage among everyone," she said.

The changes for McDonald's were also internal, with the brand reducing the number of people in creative meetings to make everything move in a more fluid and nimble manner. Even though "change is hard and makes you nervous and can be scary," Ms. Wahl said staffers are excited because they know this is the only way to push forward in the marketplace.

McDonald's employees are also embedded on-site with DDB's team to help advance "the power of collaboration," said Ms. Clark. She said the model goes from TV and social media to in-store and employee communications in order to take down silos and have everything in one place. "We say agency of the future, but I think it's the agency of today -- this is what we all have to be thinking about now," she said.

"You need to be able to put out incredibly good work at the speed and pace of the marketplace and do so efficiently," added Ms. Clark.

As the partnership between the new Omnicom shop and McDonald's continues to build, Ms. Wahl said "the teams will co-create" the important pillars and points they've both laid out.

Ms. Wahl said DDB also proposed possibly bringing in outside partners for innovative platforms when it makes sense. Adding on to that, Ms. Clark said Omnicom is a fantastic holding company, but where it doesn't have the know-how, it will bring in the likes of Facebook and Google because they can "make our ideas even better" for the platforms. "Why would we keep them away?" she said.

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