McDonalds launches user generated advertising

SimonGeneral4 Comments

Media Guardian brings news that McDonald’s has launched a new advertising campaign, centred on a member of the public’s experiences behind the scenes with the fast food giant.

Agency TBWA/London is behind the new campaign. Their executive creative director, Steve Henry, sums up the campaign’s approach neatly:

Marketing in general is moving away from the hard sell, interruptive style of advertising into engagement and involvement. We offered professional guidance on art direction, all the people picked to be quality scouts were initially sceptics. We want to show a journey with open-minded people.

The campaign is pushing people to visit a dedicated McDonald’s at where they can find out more.

Interestingly this website launched in May 2006 – delving into the website it looks like a good example of a corporation deliberately taking an open and transparent approach when faced with a major public relations challenge.

I particularly like the “your questions” section, where anyone can submit a question about anything about McDonald’s. Questions are answered within a fortnight. I’d like to this section, but as the entire site is coded in Flash I can’t link directly to it (a lesson there for agencies who still like creating entire websites in Flash!).

The real strength of this section is that the tone and content of many of the questions shows that they are genuine – many are directly critical. The responses to the questions are clear and don’t try to hide any potentially difficult messages.

This approach to difficult questions is a big positive step for a company trying to improve its public perception. It’ll be interesting to see how the new ad campaign works alongside the website.

4 Comments on “McDonalds launches user generated advertising”

  1. Interesting to see all this “user generated content” being used by major advertisers. The thing I worry about is quality.

    For example, Dove recently aired a user-generated commercial during the Oscar’s — one of the biggest advertising nights of the year. That commercial had rather low production values — poor quality video, poor writing, etc. (I wasn’t the only one who thought so — Shelly Palmer wrote a stinging review on Media 3.0.)

    I would prefer to see well-made commercials and TV shows.


  2. Phil – thanks for the comment – I think there has to be a distinction between “pure” user-generated content and content that has been derived from users, but has been produced professionally.

    If I were a big brand manager I’d want to have professionally produced content with UGC as a starting point.

    The acid test has to be if a viewer/customer wasn’t aware it was UGC, what impressions would they get of a brand?

  3. At a branch of McD’s I visited the gents and saw this sign – “This waterless urinal saves about 100,000 litres of drinking water every year.” First thoughts: Where is it stored? How is it purified? And, don’t ask for a glass of water!

    Seriously, though, it is probably the most odour-free toilet I’ve encountered to date. Congratulations. Could the use of these be encouraged – or do they use energy less economically in other ways? Or, does it use “fragrance technology” that is less green than water treatment?

    At 2 gallons a flush, its time for a makeover of conventional toilets – provided the reduced water flow doesn’t cause blocked drains.

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