McDonald’s ad from new agency is out and there is a lot wrong with it!!!

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

McDonald's Advertising Big MacLast summer, McDonald’s made the news for their consolidation of all their agencies into one. It had an $800 Million price tag with Omnicom coming out on top. They added a unique tie to the overall sales impact. That is very uncommon for the agency relationship. As someone who spent 20 years on the brand side, I had some doubts that linking the agency’s compensation to sales might focus the advertising too much on the short-term. That is the first McDonald’s ad with its new agency.

McDonald’s has struggled with relatively flat sales results for the past two years. The only growth came when they turned their breakfast items into an all-day breakfast. Even that, has recently flattened out. The role of a Brand is to create a tight bond with your consumers, which will lead to power and profit beyond what the product alone could ever achieve. The problem is that when you just become a short-term sales machine, then who is building the brand?

McDonald's AdvertisingThe healthier the brand, the easier it is to sell from. Think of your advertising plan a little like those “leave a penny; take a penny” cups we see at a convenient store. The advertising must work to keep the cup pretty full. A strict product sell type ad “takes a penny” while an anthemic brand ad seems to “leave a penny” to be used later. I guess the problem I see is McDonald’s needs a few more pennies in the cup. They need to create a tighter bond with their consumers to have a healthier brand, to enable them to sell product from. I would have expected McDonald’s to come out with a few anthemic ‘brand spots’ to re-create the magical appeal of their amazing brand. Instead, this attempts to just sell Big Macs. It does not add anything. It just takes a penny from an empty cup.

Mistake #1:McDonald’s advertising is trying to be everything to anyone is the starting point to end up nothing to everyone

This brief clearly had “everyone” as the target market.

When you target everyone, then no one thinks the ad is for them. They each think it is for someone else. With a non-edgy rap song, teens will think it is a lame attempt to get 38-year-olds, while the 38-year=olds will think the ad is for kids. This music feels like a whole new music category I would call corporate rap. The visuals also support the “everyone” argument. One scene has a teenager in a library, while another scene uses a banker that closes a deal. This is what happens when you have “everyone” for every potential occasion on your brief.

Mistake #2: McDonald’s advertising is trying to move feet (go buy it) before they move the brain (positioning)

This brief clearly stated, “sell more Big Macs”.

They really needed a big new agency to produce this spot?  The biggest problem for McDonald’s is consumers no longer know what it stands for….is it a family restaurant, a coffee shop, a sandwich shop or a meeting place? What is it?  Sales have flattened. Evidence would suggest they have lost their way and need to get it back.  McDonald’s needs to define themselves in the mind of consumers. They need to pick one path, not a bunch of them at once. With a desperate need for brand repositioning, they ignore that with their first spot out of the gates that just sells the product. They should have led with a new brand spot to establish what they want their brand to stand for, whether that ties back to a prior positioning, updates their positioning or finds something completely new. What is the 7-second Big Idea you would use to describe the brand?

Mistake #3: This McDonald’s ad will have no impact on the consumer

This ad likely had “Recent data shows 25% of millennial consumers have never had a Big Mac.” as the business problem. What the brief failed to do was translate the business problem into a consumer problem.

Creative execution must amplify your brand story and brand positioning so that your brand stands out in the crowded marketplace, connecting with your most desired consumers so they will see, think, act or feel differently about your brand than before they saw the message. This ad does nothing. It attempts to reconnect with those who already know about the Big Mac and basically asks them to try it again. If you have never had a Big Mac, this ad does nothing for you.

What I wished McDonald’s had done was to figure out their Big Idea that reflects their inner brand soul. And then work to build a new reputation in the market the brand can stand behind.

McDonald's Advertising Beloved Brands

McDonald’s advertising needs smarter focus, definition, and execution

The problem many brand leaders have, is they come to a decision point, and they try to find a way to justify doing both. Sorry, McDonald’s. This is my second article this month that trashes your strategy and now your execution. I am a fan of the brand, I want the brand to be successful. My big ask is that you find some way to focus. Here’s the last article I wrote about McDonald’s unable to decide whether they want to completely re-build their kitchens to sell fresh expensive hamburgers or they want to completely re-build their lounge areas to sell more coffee.

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

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Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

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The impact that smart, creative advertising has on your brand

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

People always ask me, “so what is it that makes a brand leader good at creative advertising. I used to think they must be more creative. Or they are more in touch with creative people. Or better yet, they are a visionary. I never really thought these answers satisfied me. Advertising is so much more than that. In fact there are many things around advertising that have nothing to do with the creative. There needs to be a great brand plan that inspires great strategy, the creative brief should be tight, yet rich with insight. Brand leaders have to manage the process and stay on strategy and they should have an ability to select the right media. They should take risks. They have to be able to handle the stress of ambiguity against deadlines, and the pressure to make the numbers in the face of art. Advertising is half art, half science. They have to be able to give some freedom of execution, yet maintain a tight control on the strategy.

The thinking behind smart and creative advertising

The best advertising must balance being creatively different and strategically smart. 

When ads are smart but not different, they get lost in the clutter. It is natural for marketers to tense up when the creative work ends up being “too different.” In all parts of the business, marketers are trained to look for past proof as a sign something will work. However, when it comes to advertising if the ads start too similar to what other brands have already done, then the advertising will be at risk of boring your consumers, so you never stand out enough to capture their attention. Push your comfort with creativity and take a chance to ensure your ad breaks through. 

When ads are different but not smart, they will entertain consumers, but do nothing for your brand. Your advertising must be smart enough to trigger the desired consumer response to match your brand strategy.

Be a better client

Brand Leaders must be good at giving good feedback, maybe even a bit fussy about details. Be nice though.  They have to love the work and bring that emotion to the table. What about motivating the team?  Not just motivating the creatives, but the planners, the account people, the editors and even the directors. Someone who is great at Advertising has to make decisions. They have to be able to walk in the shoes of the consumer, yet still, live at the desk of the brand. The best brand leaders must have the ability to gain alignment with their own team and yet gain approval from the senior management of the company. They have to be able to sell the work.  At all stages. The list goes on and on. There are just so many things that are required to get good advertising. Being creative is a great start. But it is more.

The best brand leaders must consistently get good creative advertising into the market, and they can keep bad creative advertising out of the market.

It’s such a simple yet complicated answer. Almost as simple and complicated as David Ogilvy’s line “Clients get the work they deserve”. I always ask Brand Leaders, “if you knew that how you showed up actually impacts the advertising, do you think you might show up differently?” I hope the answer is yes. But I’m not sure they do. Those great at advertising get it.

Sadly, there is an equally long list of things that make Brand Leaders bad at advertising. These days, there is so much learning on the job that people end up as the decision-maker in the room, sitting there trying to lead the advertising when they haven’t even properly trained on how to do it. Malcolm Gladwell says you’re an expert when you’ve had 10,000 hours. And yet, there are Brand Leaders are thrust into leading an Ad Campaign with 20, 30 or maybe 100 hours. And no training. Even those who are supposed to teach you haven’t been trained.  So you are both learning. How can you consistently get good advertising on the air, managing such a complicated process when you’re still learning. On the job.

What great creative advertising must do for your brand

Creative advertising that is different enough to drive engagement. 

To gain attention among the 5,000 ads consumers see each day, you have to make what you do interesting enough to get noticed. 

1. Let the visuals do the talking. 

Need a visual to capture attention, link to your brand and communicate your message. ‘See-say’ advertising helps consumers brain to engage, follow along and remember.

2. Set your brand apart from the competition. 

The more different the execution and positioning message, the more different it will make the brand seem.

3. Connect using consumer Insight. 

Insights enable consumers to see themselves in the situation and once you do that, the consumers will see that the brand must be for them. Focus on mattering the most to those consumers who care the most.

4. Keep the idea and communication focused and very simple. 

Focused target, focused message, focused strategy and a focused media. If you try to shout too many messages, consumer just ends up hearing a confusing mess 

5. Sell the benefit, not the problem or your features. 

Focus more on the solution than the problem. And it is not what you do, but what consumers get, and how it makes them feel. 

6. Tell the story behind the brand. 

Talk about your brand’s purpose and your story about why you started this brand, what do you hope the brand really does to help people.

7. Use creative advertising to build up your brand idea. 

Brand Ideas drive consistency, aligning your thinking over time, across mediums (paid, earned, social, store) and across the entire brand line up.

 

The ABC'S of creative advertising

Another way to rephrase this list is through the ABC’S: Attention Branding Communication and Stickiness.  

  • Attention: You have to get noticed in a crowded world of advertising. Consumers see 6000 ads per day, and will likely only engage in a few. If your brand doesn’t draw attention naturally, then you’ll have to force it into the limelight.
  • Brand Link: Ads that tell the story of the relationship between the consumer and the brand will link best. Even more powerful are ads that are from the consumer’s view of the brand. It’s not how much branding there is, but how close the brand fits the climax of the ad.
  • Communication: Tapping into the truths of the consumer and the brand, helps you to tell the brand’s life story. Keep your story easy to understand. Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it—because that says just as much.
  • Stickiness: Sticky ads help to build a consistent brand/consumer experience over time. In the end, brands are really about “consistency” of the promise you want to own. Brands have to exist in the minds of the consumer.

Show up the right way

If how you show up to the agency will produce better creative advertising work  Then show up right. 

Agencies should be treated like trusted partners, not suppliers. Engage them early asking for advice, not just telling them what to do and when. If you tell an agency what to do, there will only be one answer “YES”. But if you ask them what to do, there are three answers: yes, no or maybe. Seek their advice beyond advertising. Build a relationship directly with the creative teams. Be more than “just another client”.

Getting great creative advertising is a balance between freedom and control. Most Marketers allow too much FREEDOM on the strategy but want to exhibit CONTROL on the creative. It should be the reverse, you should control the strategy and give freedom to creative. Don’t go into a creative meeting with a pre-conceived notion as to what the ad should look like. Creative people are “in the box” problem solvers. What they don’t want a) blank canvas b) unclear problem and c) your solutions to the problem. Let them be in the box and find the solution for you. That’s what motivates them the most.

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Our playbooks will show you new ways for how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  1. You will find new strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  2. To define the brand, I provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We show a step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  3. For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the marketing communications plan, innovation process, and sales plan. 
  4. To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution with chapters on how to write a creative brief, how to make decisions on creative advertising and how to lead the media choices. 
  5. When it comes time for analyzing the performance of your brand, I provide all the analytical tools you need to lead a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand.  

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand and be successful in your marketing career.

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