McDonald’s launches marketing campaign

NEW YORK: As the world’s biggest hamburger chain fights to hold onto customers, McDonald’s yesterday unveiled a new marketing strategy and adverts it says will emphasise the « love » in its long-running « I’m Lovin’ It » slogan.

McDonald’s released TV adverts it says will begin airing this week, including an animated video where the Joker and the Batman, a mail man and a dog, a blue donkey and red elephant and Smurfs and Gargamel show affection to each other and share McDonald’s products.

The upbeat spot ends with the words « Choose Lovin’, » encompassed by a ring of hearts.

The push to identify itself with love and positivity in the minds of customers comes at a challenging time for McDonald’s, which is facing shifting eating habits, intensifying competition and growing calls by workers and labour organisers for higher pay and a union.

Sales for its flagship US division have continued to struggle even after McDonald’s replaced its president twice in less than two years. In November, sales fell 4.6 per cent at established US restaurants.

The strategy of associating its brand with an uplifting emotion isn’t unique in the marketing world; Coca-Cola, for instance, has established itself by likening its namesake soda to moments of happiness.

Allen Adamson, chairman of brand consulting firm Landor North America, said McDonald’s is trying to achieve something similar by focusing a massive organisation behind a big, simple idea that « sits above the quality of its food. »

But he said the challenge for McDonald’s will be in tying « loving » back to the experience of eating at McDonald’s.

« What does loving have to do with how McDonald’s is going make my experience better? » he said.

Still, Adamson said the « loving » strategy could help give McDonald’s a more cohesive direction in fixing its many problems.

McDonald’s had planned to unveil the strategy at a media event on December 17, but cancelled the week before without explanation.

The company also declined to make a representative available yesterday, but posted a video online with remarks by Deborah Wahl, chief marketing officer for McDonald’s US.

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