Cannes Lions 2022: How McDonald’s went from just a “wallpaper brand” | Advertising
On day one of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Morgan Flatley, Global CMO, McDonald’s and Neal Arthur, Global CEO, Wieden+Kennedy, explained how the brand plans to revamp its communications strategy in 2019.
The conference was moderated by Jeff Beer, editor of Fast Company.
Beer said he perceived McDonald’s not to be the most creative marketing brand, even though it was a big spender.
Flatley agreed with his perception and said that when she became global marketing director in 2019, her stated goal was to change it.
“We were kind of like wallpaper, because we were everywhere but didn’t make sense to customers. McDonald’s is a large-scale organization and we serve 40 million customers a day. We didn’t want to disrupt the operational machine that we were. But we realized that when you talk to everyone, you end up talking to nobody, at least in the United States,” she said.
She added that McDonald’s wanted to make sure the brand meant something to people by making the brand more meaningful and connecting emotionally with consumers.
Arthur went on to describe Wieden + Kennedy’s speech to the brand, which he admitted was a disaster at first.
That changed after the agency held a roadshow to find out what people thought of the brand.
“We thought brand-wide and wanted to do something huge, but we struggled at first. Then we did a roadshow to find out what people thought of brands. It changed the things for us. People had stories about McDonald’s and we wanted to be a real person and speak to our consumers,” he explained.
Flatley added that the difficult conversations the brand and the agency had together at the start helped as the relationship progressed.
She explains: “Initially, we thought that W+K didn’t know the brand and didn’t like it! But the magic is that when they did the road trip, they got to know our consumers. We got to know the enemies and the business problems we had to solve.
Arthur said that while McDonald’s knows the haters and the business issues it needs to address, brands should focus on the consumers who love them.
“With any big brand, there’s a tendency to see hate comments on YouTube, but then you can ignore the consumers who like you. Focus on those consumers and why they like you. On this journey nine-month pitch, we built that trust with McDonald’s. Once we built that trust that allowed us to take more risks with things like Travis,” he said.
On the campaign, Flatley added: “I was confident on the outside but called Neal late at night to be sure. It helps to have that confidence. What helped tremendously was that it was created during Covid, when there was so much uncertainty, so there was a willingness to try stuff and take risks,” she said. declared.
Work with celebrities
Explaining why the agency wanted to work with celebrities, Arthur said, “We wanted to engage with them in a way that felt authentic. Travis had ideas from the jump. His talks on the goods were with conviction. So we created a space for him to work. It was precious. It became the basis of what we did with other celebrities. BTS did it too – they put it in their language and also co-wrote it.
Flatley added: “We’ve been very rigorous with our dealings with celebrities and asked them what their ‘order to follow’ is. If they don’t, we don’t associate with them. All of them had interesting obsessions about how they played with food. It was a partnership with a celebrity who loved our brand.
Shortly after the reconciliation, during Scott’s concert, there was a tragedy that left eight people dead.
On whether such tragedies have an impact on the brand, Arthur said: “As an agency, as we also work with Nike and ESPN, we don’t see celebrities being synonymous with brands. We tap into authentic relationships with brands. There will be times when there are negative media cycles. As long as there’s a genuine relationship, it’s fine.