McDonald’s: Not Clowning Around

Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun…  was there a kid at school that didn’t know this ditty?  Is there an adult today that couldn’t recite it now?  Nope.  And that’s how McDonald’s want it.  

McDonald’s excels at marketing. Even when they get it wrong (or get themselves in trouble) they continue to retain the market share.  Whether you like McDonald’s or despise the brand and the food, it really doesn’t matter.  Because you’ve still eaten it.  Everyone has.  Macca’s blazed the trail of relentless brand promotion and transformative marketing to ensure ongoing engagement of new consumers and guaranteed sales.

McDonald’s has come under heavy public criticism for their unhealthy options which ultimately forced a public response. In 2004 Morgan Spurlock’s documentary “Super Size Me” was released creating an overnight worldwide consumer uproar.  I mean we knew it wasn’t healthy but hey… we didn’t think it was that bad.  Thankfully though the Macca’s PR team  changed the McDonalds menu announcing the “Go Active” menu the day before the documentary was released… Well played Macca’s, well played.

Big Ronald

As consumers became increasingly health conscious, McDonald’s altered their marketing, promoting freshness and choice. McDonald’s advertise via most media channels: TV, radio, magazine and are very active on social media – their US Facebook page has over 27M fans. This is critical to their marketing campaign, generating word of mouth advertising and creating product ‘buzz’.

Macca’s advertising is consistently a one sided argument. While successful for now, consumers are increasingly cynical about both the brand and the food quality. To counter, Macca’s could embark on a two sided argument campaign to dispel the unhealthy-food perception. (Mind you, McDonald’s 2015 global revenue was $25.41B, so there is little need to alter marketing tac just yet.)

McDonalds Fresh

Reviewing the McDonalds IMC Plan for the McEco, some objectives are vague: “increase awareness”, “increase market share in the sandwich sector” (NB ‘sandwich’, not ‘fast food’). One long-term objective is linking “McEco, McCafe and McDonald’s with a healthy image”, demonstrating a desire to be viewed as healthy and fresh.  One thing that is indisputably healthy is McDonald’s marketing budget, which is estimated at $2.3B annually. This facilitates advertising across various mediums, direct marketing (newsletter, social media), sales promotion (in-store menu), publicity and public relations (sponsoring) and personal selling (cashiers suggest McEco).  The McEco IMC was given 5% of the annual marketing budget, that’s $115M, the breakdown of this is below;

% of total $ (in millions)
Advertising 70% 80.5
Direct Marketing 8% 9.2
Sales Promotion 5% 5.75
Publicity and Public Relations 15% 17.25
Personal Selling 2% 2.3

Further, McDonald’s has always used celebrity endorsement to achieve association transfer. Celebrities so far have included: Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt, Lebron James, Destiny’s Child and Justin Timberlake. The potential issue however is that no one truly believes these celebrities regularly eat McDonald’s.  Instead it reads as a celebrity cash-grab and credibility is lost, which poses a risk to both Macca’s and the celebrity.

Lebron McDonaldsLebron Drop McDonalds





Since 2015 McDonald’s has run the “create your own taste” campaign encouraging Australian’s to think of McDonald’s as a gourmet product.  Bespoke even. And it’s worked: McDonald’s sales and guest-counts have risen steadily, seeing Australia become the lead market for McDonalds, (prior to this campaign, McDonalds sales were slipping). This campaign is now entering maturity stage of the product life cycle (PLC) and brand awareness is strong. This is the most profitable stage of the PLC typically accompanying a reduction in marketing expenditure to fully maximise returns.

McDonald’s markets itself consistently and forcefully. They have 22% of the global market share and remain the number one fast food brand. Their marketing is dynamic, suiting various mediums and continuously evolving to suit specific target audiences with a consistent message which is a key principle of any IMC.  Love them or hate them, Macca’s is here to stay, and they definitely mean business.

Daniel Morgan / 214533584 / danielmorgan8

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