McDonald’s new ads are as tipsy as its late-night customers

DDB New Zealand explains the rigorous research that went into ‘We Speak Late Night’

Published On
Jan 23, 2023
McDonald's We Speak Late Night campaign OOH ad that reads A Bubble Caught a Panda and a Cloak

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The scene inside your typical fast-food restaurant late at night can be a little sketchy, which may be why clients in the category tend to sidestep it in ads.

But McDonald’s New Zealand, eager to re-establish McDonald’s as the destination of choice after a night on the town, is having fun with it, unveiling an outdoor campaign from DDB Group Aotearoa with headlines that sound like inebriated people ordering food. Decoding them is half the fun.

“A bubble caught a panda and a cloak” is probably the best one, but there are many, as you can see here.

A collection of 'We Speak Late Night' bus shelter ads for McDonald's

Joking about alcohol use can be a little tricky, but DDB says the client—including head of brand and media Leigh Benvie—was “thrilled” with the concept. 

The DDB team—including chief creative officer Gary Steele, creative directors Ben Pegler and Veronica Copestake, and senior creative Adam Barnes—said they did some “complex research” to get in the mindset of late-night customers.

McDonald’s outdoor ad that reads “Ferret oh Frish extra tata”

"We conducted a ground-breaking experiment that we all agreed was very sciency—at the pub," the agency told Ad Age. "After precisely a randomly large amount of swiftly consumed units of alcohol, our expert opinion was that we were sufficiently liquidated and had entered a temporary state of alcohol-induced dyslexia. We were ready to move to Phase 2: the McDonald’s restaurant down the road. Our early attempts to communicate our orders were met with blank stares and puzzled expressions. Potentially we had done too much prior research. But then suddenly, a breakthrough. Fortunately, the attentive staff were well versed in various dialects, including ours. They were able to skillfully decipher our confusing efforts to acquire sustenance, and in no time our respective orders were delivered to us. As the burgers and fries were inhaled, inaudible grunts were accompanied by newly discovered words such as “durricious,” “groood” and “naaarm, naaarm.” Our overwhelming conclusion was that McDonald’s undisputedly speaks late night. And it’s yummy."

These were clearly fun to work on, and amusing to decipher. As for McDonald’s workers in Auckland presented with actual slurred orders—well, we’d imagine that’s not quite as awesome.

McDonald’s outdoor ad that reads “A Mig Back Congo peas”


Jan 23, 2023
Client :
McDonald's-New Zealand
Client :
Agency :
Agency :
DDB-New Zealand
Head of Brand and Media :
Leigh Benvie
Director of Marketing :
Luke Rive
Business Director :
Jennifer Hilliar
Business Manager :
Shelley Hooper
Account Executive :
George Hulley
Group Chief Creative Officer :
Matty Burton
Chief Creative Officer :
Gary Steele
Creative Director :
Ben Pegler
Senior Art Director :
Adam Barnes
Senior Copywriter :
Veronica Copestake
Senior Copywriter :
James O'Sullivan
Lead Business Director :
Karla Fisher
Senior Business Director :
Akira Hobcraft
Senior Producer :
Julz Lane
Designer :
Paul Edwards
Photographer :
Trent Hall
ECD Tribal :
Haydn Kerr
Managing Partner :
Brianna Elder
Senior Account Director :
Vicki Griffin
Senior Account Manager :
Leah Iro
Account Director :
Shellee Arnold

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