Tag Archives: McDonald’s

TV Ads Score Supreme During A World Cup Of Fewer Ads

It is easy to get caught up in the fervor of the World Cup as hundreds of millions root for teams from around the globe. Many of those viewers may be seeing ad styles that they’re not used to seeing if they are not already watchers of Soccer/Futbol – with no breaks other than half-time. With that being said, it’s interesting to see the quality of the futbol-themed ads and the alternative viewing data that’s revealing itself in this first week of competition. Tubefilter reports that 1.2 Billion minutes of World Cup adverts have been watched on YouTube alone in the first week. What was refreshing beyond the numbers was the opportunity to see some great spots in a language I don’t fully understand when watching games on Univision – where the advertisers have really score in producing strong ads with emotional strings that defy language.


While there are many good spots that capture the great skill of the sport in a technical sense as a solid celebration of the game, the strongest visceral response I had was to McDonald’s “House Divided” spot in Spanish.  Honestly, I even had a little letdown when I saw it in English as it changed the resonance somewhat.

What does seem to be the case is that the general public gets an opportunity to see ad creative surrounding the Beautiful Game that they otherwise might not get a chance to see.  In the case of McDonald’s, they’ve gone to an agency they’ve had strong history with from an emotional perspective tied to futbol the Alma agency based in Miami.  Alma created another futbol-based winner for the golden arches in February of ’13 with their Ancha spot.

World events like this have that great by-product – love ’em or hate ’em – of TV ads that can truly connect emotionally.  Even with the limited opportunities for running within the matches themselves, their strength and emotion reign supreme during this Beautiful Tournament for the Beautiful Game..

7-11 Creates Fun Chill Without Causing Brain Freeze

Some brands have the ability to inherently place a flag in a date that makes sense for marketing purposes.  We’ve covered McDonald’s fries on 11.11.11 and now we’ve come to 7.11.  7-Eleven convenience stores have gone all Summer silly to celebrate Slurpees on 7.11 and it seems they’ve done a good job at having fun with a seasonal marketing campaign.


The 7-Eleven folks have created a number of pieces to be able to celebrate 7-Eleven day on 7.11 – from a dance tutorial to downloadable party favors to a bizarre “motivational” chinchilla. It all forms a bit of silliness that actually makes sense for the brand. It has never taken itself too seriously and has had fun with the Slurpee product in the past.  A big recent example that comes to mind is Slurpee Summit 2010 – where they latched on to the political scrum between President Obama and Republicans with a Purple For The People Slurpee and a tour from Dallas to Washington D.C.

SO, 7-Eleven has set up what seems to be a solid agile team for both the stores and their Slurpees. But what issues might there be with their preparation for 7.11.13 and the 7-Eleven Dance Party?

The set up is consistent with the brand with a fun site and campaign announcing free Slurpees and all the bits to make up a party.  The party prep is nothing new, but 7-Eleven has put their spin on it – for better or for worse. Starting with the dance video, it is good fun to see a dance begun by brain freeze and the kaleidoscopic colors, unicorns & rainbows and a decent dance tune. I’m still trying to figure out if the dancer in the gold shorts falls under the better or worse category, but one thing is certain – it is consistent with the brand.

The microsite does include a “how to” dance video and entices fans to create their own dance video and post them online with the hash-tag #Slurpeedance, but who knows how many will do it. Where they might have gone astray with this is that they showed the behind-the-scenes making of for the dance video – which beyond removing some of the magic of the video, shows that this wasn’t a simple production that anyone could do.  It almost turns people off to do their own thing. Perhaps that BTS video would have been better served as a follow-up piece to help keep the tail going on the campaign.

We are already seeing #Overkill and its no surprise that 7-Eleven has introduced  a silly one here – with Laura Gordon, vice president of marketing and brand innovation stating, “We promised an #Awesummer this year with more fun, more free stuff and more surprises, and summer is far from over. There’s lots more to come.” Awesummer? Really? Perhaps the good thing is that they are also doing programming to drag this through the Summer rather than just 7.11 with an app that provides specials throughout the coming months.

The only elements that are questionable are: the Nikki Reed beach bash on 7.9 that seemed to have few people in attendance (much less stars); and, the fact that the free Slurpees are only available on 7.11 from 11AM-7PM (shouldn’t it be the other way around?)

When you look at the whole, the 7-Eleven team has done a good job at being consistent in their brand and being able to pounce when the timing is right. Shouldn’t they now be working to make 7.11 a national holiday?

Don’t forget to pick up your free Slurpee and remember to pace yourself lest you get brain freeze!

Much Ado About #McDStories – Nothing But A Cautionary Tale

There is no doubt that social media is a key component for brand messaging and the non-moderated two-way communication it brings leads to larger messaging complexities. As we’ve seen time and again, the programs with the best intentions can go awry.  The latest is one by McDonald’s and even though the #McDStories component was a relatively small blip, it provides a cautionary tale for those companies who feel they can dive into the social media landscape without the proper staffing or strategy.  

McDonald’s launched a campaign last week touting the freshest ingredients through the sponsoring of the trends #MeetTheFarmers and #McDStories.  It seems that everything was going fine on Thursday with #MeetTheFarmers until they moved to the vague hashtag – #McDStories.  It seems that they were trying to frame it as an opportunity for suppliers to share their stories about working with McDonald’s (never mind questioning whether suppliers are actively tweeting while working with produce) with a sample Tweet of: 

“When u make something w/ pride, people can taste it,” McD potato supplier #McDstories

Unfortunately for them, users twisted the meaning as a call to bash the company. Some strong examples were captured by  The Daily Mail:





This reiterates the fact that companies cannot be assured that users will respond to social campaigns in the way you would like them to.  Another lesson is that you’ve got to act quickly with campaigns that don’t work and even with ones that do. And, ultimately, hopefully it illustrates how you may not be able to get by with one person doing all of your social.  It definitely depends on the size of your company, but also the strategy of your marketing.  Companies cannot get away with saying that social is key to their marketing and not support the actual execution – that’s good for neither the company or the staff charged with running social.

In the case of McDonald’s, they are a huge company that is constantly being barraged by fans and detractors in this environment.  As such, the company has a seemingly aggressive social media staff that is able to monitor communications and make changes quickly.  It seems that within hours, they moved away from the campaign. But even with a large team, they are not able to control the life of the hashtag.

In addition to the quick campaign change, McDonald’s Social Media Director, Rick Wion, went into high-gear to try to manage things.  There’s a few different nuanced responses he made based on the different outlets. The first one is more explanatory of what happened and the second one comes off as a little defensive:

Last Thursday, we planned to use two different hashtags during a promoted trend – #meetthefarmers and #mcdstories.

While #meetthefarmers was used for the majority of the day and successful in raising awareness of the Supplier Stories campaign, #mcdstories did not go as planned. We quickly pulled #mcdstories and it was promoted for less than two hours.

Within an hour of pulling #McDStories the number of conversations about it fell off from a peak of 1600 to a few dozen. It is also important to keep those numbers in perspective. There were 72,788 mentions of McDonald’s overall that day so the traction of #McDStories was a tiny percentage (2%) of that.

With all social media campaigns, we include contingency plans should the conversation not go as planned. The ability to change midstream helped this small blip from becoming something larger.

Here’s the one with a little more of a defensive tone:

The #McDStories tactics was part of a larger campaign to share our stories about the farmers who grow McDonald’s food. As soon as we saw that #McDStories was not going as planned, we made the decision to pull the hashtag and replace it with the more positive and successful #MeettheFarmers. Within that two hour window from launch to pull down of #McDStories, the number of tweets about it jumped to a peak of about 1600 but then fell off to only a few dozen.

It is also important to keep those numbers in perspective. There were 72,788 mentions of McDonald’s overall that day and #McDStories was a tiny percentage of that–roughly 2%. The tweets that were used for the video an article are very negative, but given that McDonald’s is mentioned on Twitter more than 250,000 times each week, it is very easy to cherry pick negative (or positive) tweets that are not representative of the overall picture.

Bottom line–the negative chatter wasn’t as much as today’s headlines have lead people to believe. This happened almost a week ago and the hashtag is only living on because many media outlets are using the chance to push a provocative and tweetable headline.

Part of being in social media is knowing that you can’t control the message 100 percent of the time.

As Twitter continues to evolve its platform and engagement opportunities, we’re learning from our experiences.

The keys here were that McDonald’s is taking chances and has prepared themselves to quickly respond.  Some would question whether the tone of the second response is needed, but we can all understand what a frustrating position Wion was in. Again, it has to do with a larger social strategy – if their goal is to respond to every concern, then they’ve got to be consistent with that.  It seems their strategy is to be active along many fronts with the promotion of many trends (#flavorbattle, #LittleThings and #ChickenMcBites) so the offending trends could easily be mitigated and forgotten.

So, what is the cautionary tale other than users will take advantage of social media the way they see fit? Maybe a little bit… But the larger lesson is that companies are wasting money if they don’t have a clear social strategy and the staffing to support it. Social is not a box to be checked on a marketing plan or an execution that can always be managed by one person with a Social Media Dashboard (i.e. HootSuite, Seesmic, Radian6 and many more).  Things happen too quickly and there’s hardly ever enough time to act upon user sentiment in effective ways without the resources to do so. 

As an aside (or an example), there is a company who completely missed the opportunity to leverage the #meetthefarmers buzz – Caretrace owns @meetthefarmers and they made absolutely no moves to drive traffic to their own site.

No matter how big or small you are, a real social strategy needs to be put in place and that strategy needs to weigh staffing issues to be able to deal with the realities of the social media environment.  On the surface, it may seem like you can get away with as little support as possible. Even if you don’t have the target on your back that McDonald’s has, the relevant level of support needs to be there to not only engage socially, but to optimize opportunities to drive more business for the company.

All this does not preclude you from having the issues that McDonald’s had, but this event highlights the ways in which the perception of a big error can be weathered or mitigated by a proper strategy. In the end, it probably is much ado about nothing and we will passingly refer to it in a matter of days and forget about it in weeks.  But the underlying learnings are certainly not a cautionary tale to be ignored…

McDonald’s Making A Splash For Fry Supremacy

McDonald’s fries have historically won the argument over which national chain has the best fries.  Even though I haven’t eaten there for years, I still cherish how much I liked their fries.  It seems I’m not alone in not enjoying their fries for a while as fry sales have had a bit of a dip over the past 5 years due to the collective downplay of those types of fast-food staples for more nutritional options.  McDonald’s even went so far as to minimize the size of their small and kids meal fries (adding apple slices in the kid’s mix.) But now, they feel it is time to take charge of what rightfully may be theirs – fry supremacy – with a creative (or at least provocative) campaign surrounding 11-11-11.  For on this day, in Chicago, they have deemed Friday, “Fryday.”

From the outset, it seems like the campaign is a smart one – if only for the statement and morale of those in their corporate offices  just outside of Chicago-proper.  With billboards using fries as the ones in 11-11-11 and ketchup spots acting as dashes, they seem to have placed their fry in the ground to ensure that they maintain supremacy. If attempting to take marketing learnings from this, one could say that it is strong business as you can’t let up even if you’re at the top.  I think it is a way to cover that marketing angle, but more likely a fun way to leverage the date that we won’t see again for another century. 

In addition to the billboard play on 11-11-11 (last Fryday), they plan to have a pair of searchlights shoot into the sky every night until the end of Nov from the chain’s flagship location at the intersection of Clark and Ontario Streets. On Fryday, they offered small fries at half price and also had a contest with local chef and football players for the best meal to go along with the fries.

Now, besides the inopportune grumbling from a few that it was not tasteful to do this on Veteran’s Day (sorry about your luck as the date is the date – and it doesn’t come around much), there are a few things that do appear to be odd choices.  Granted, they could have downplayed the whole thing – both in scale and scope – due to the date falling on Veteran’s Day or the knowledge that tastes are shifting when it comes to nutrition.  Here’s the questioning of a few odd choices.

  • Why didn’t they roll it out to other markets – at least on-air where a spot having fun with the fry-shaped date palindrome could have been inserted into their regular rotation?
  • If you’re going to have the spotlights hit the skies through to the end of the 11th month of the 11th year, why not extend just another month to close out ’11 in high style?
  • Isn’t it a little bit odd to have a cook-off to determine the best dish to go with the fries?  Shouldn’t that already exist on the menu?
  • Even with an execution just in Chicago, there was enough narrative to generate excitement about the coming 11.11.11 and even the fact that ’11 could be the year of the Fry.  Even on a cost-effective, well-placed scale digitally, this could have been huge for the company.  Again, the dates don’t lend themselves like this often, so you’ve got to take advantage.

All of the above lead me to believe that it was executed primarily to entertain the corporate office and its home city – which just happens to be a decent-sized city.  If so, they’ve done a good job and have probably done so with little cost and big upside.

In the end, whether I eat their fries or not, McDonald’s Fries still reign supreme in my mind – and this campaign just reminded me of it.