Emotion sells

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Yes, they may be sappy but McDonald's Corp. is beginning to air McDonald's commercials again. That means, of course, TV advertising that depicts emotional moments linking the consumer with the brand that is McDonald's-engagingly and entertainingly. And for this the chain's executives should not apologize. It's been too long coming, and it's coming at just the right time.

There are, of course, classics aplenty in the McDonald's advertising canon. And a new spot from Burrell Communications Group reminds us of just what the fast-food giant's ads are all about. In the commercial, a young girl charmingly uses french fries to help her little brother learn to count (by overcounting those going onto her plate).

At the same time, the new ad work reminds us of what was missing for a while there. During that period, it can be noted, McDonald's lost its way as rivals such as Burger King were stealing the limelight.

Advertising wasn't the only problem for McDonald's, obviously. But the chain finally is rolling out its new cooking system in the U.S., and the directive from its management team is that the "Made For You" project is just that, an internal system and not an advertising platform. This has to be one of the marketing team's more important decisions in this long process of remaking McDonald's. And it's one in which advertising will be a beneficiary.

Sure, toy giveaway promotions and price promotions continue to play a part in its strategy to maintain and build traffic in its stores. But with most of its rivals playing that game to a fault, McDonald's-as one industry analyst told Advertising Age last week-is the single chain that has the "equity" to pull off the warm, "heartstrings" approach.

Actually, the analyst had it backwards. That emotional link with the customer is its equity.

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