McDonald’s Monopoly is with us again, and alongside the chance to win cash, holidays and apple pies is a fresh helping of criticism of the popular competition.
Repeating his stance from previous years, Labour’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson has called for the chain to ban the event, which he claims encourages overeating and an unhealthy diet. In response, McDonald’s have pointed out that they have included some of their lower fat options in this year’s competition and have removed the incentive to ‘go large’ – which, unfortunately, has not gone down well with customers.
While the debate continues as to whether McDonald’s Monopoly has had its day, we take a look back at some of McDonald’s most prolific ads and campaigns.
The Big Mac with Bacon
Starting with a recent campaign, the beginning of 2019 saw McDonald’s change up the 51-year-old recipe of the Big Mac for the first time – by adding bacon. The TV ad which spearheaded the campaign included an array of celebs in ‘everyday situations’ arguing over whether or not a Big Mac could still carry its name if it was served with bacon.
Taking the conversation online, McDonald’s asked the public to use the hashtag #StillABigMac or #NotABigMac to have their say – eventually 53 per cent of those engaged said it was in fact, not a Big Mac.
The use of the different famous faces in the ad showed that McDonald’s still knows how to create a universal appeal, with a wide range of personalities appearing all while carefully avoiding a situation where they could again be accused of trying to appeal to a younger market. Gen X viewers are likely to appreciate Harry Redknapp’s cameo, following his popular run in the jungle, Gen Z are satisfied with YouTube stars Jack Maynard and Cian Twomey and of course, nostalgia marketing has always been popular with millennials.
There’s also a nod to the Big Mac losing its trademark following a legal battle with Irish Chain Supermac, the hashtag #StillABigMac suggests that McDonald’s know that the name is associated with them first and foremost.
I’m Lovin’ It
The use of celebrities in advertising is nothing new, but few brands have asked a celebrity to release a single featuring their brand-new slogan. Justin Timberlake’s ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ may have peaked at 79 in the UK charts, but the jingle taken from the song definitely had some sticking power. To this day, saying ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ to a British person invokes them to hum back the iconic McDonald’s ‘ba-da-ba-ba-ba’.
Good to Know
Showing that they know exactly what their customers and critics think of them and attempting to challenge those perceptions, McDonalds released an ad detailing the kind of beef used in their burger production. This ad was part of a series which aimed to promote the fresh, quality ingredients McDonald’s uses in its food. The campaign also included an ad showing a game of Chinese whispers which started with ‘there’s all sorts of bits in nuggets’ and real-life mums visiting the McDonald’s factory to see for themselves how the food is made. This campaign demonstrates that McDonald’s knows and understands how it is perceived and successfully debunks the food myths surrounding the brand.
The 2012 London Olympics
Though the sponsorship deal came to an abrupt end in 2017, McDonald’s was a sponsor of the Olympic Games for 40 years. As the only branded restaurant allowed at the London Games, McDonald’s used the opportunity to capitalise on the emotional connection the UK had formed with the upcoming Olympics with a brilliant ad featuring the slogan ‘We All Make the Games’.
They also built the world’s biggest McDonald’s restaurant, which was open for just six weeks before being torn down again. Unlike in previous Olympics, London had strict targets for reducing waste and so 75 per cent of the restaurant was reused or recycled post-event. The brand used the ‘world’s biggest McDonald’s’ title to generate headlines, but were able to position it so that the story also included their renewed commitments to sustainability.
While McDonald’s continues to celebrate its affordability with recent ads highlighting its saver menu, the original late 90s campaign featuring short videos set the scene for those to come. The ten second clips featured a voice over stating that this was the amount of work various professions had to do to afford the McDonald’s 99p menu. When reviewing 40 years of McDonald’s marking, executive creative director of Leo Burnett London, Justin Tindall, called it ‘ten seconds of lateral genius’.