I’m Lovin’ It: McDonald’s Marketing Success

25 January 2023
by Annie-Mai Hodge
5 mins
I’m Lovin’ It: McDonald’s Marketing Success

McDonald’s was already one of the most popular and recognisable brands in the world before social media, but it successfully transferred its notoriety to the age of digital media.

The American fast food chain has more than 92 million followers* across social media channels. That puts it way ahead of Starbucks (66 million)* and KFC (60 million).* Its success story is built from once humble origins.

McDonald’s was founded by the McDonald brothers over 80 years ago but it wasn’t until the early 1960s that it became the iconic brand many know today, with its golden arches and Ronald McDonald mascot.

One key ingredient to McDonald’s success was its global branding, which was built around a simple, iconic logo and considerable sums in marketing investment. The fast food chain was particularly successful with its campaigns targeted at the entire family. Rather than focus on a specific niche, McDonald’s was able to market its Happy Meals for children while also appealing to adults, with larger burgers and portion sizes.

The limited menu also helped, as it focused McDonald’s marketing efforts around a few core, high-quality food products. Burgers, fries and milkshakes were what McDonald’s was first renowned for and that hasn’t changed much during the last 60 years. These tasty foods are made more enticing by a value-based pricing strategy that allows customers to buy certain items for £2 or less.

And when you add an excellent franchising model in to the mix, with a staggering 40,031 restaurants globally, it is fair to say that McDonald’s has wielded its brand power to huge success. With so much brand recognition, it also has the luxury of experimenting with new campaigns.

McDonald’s has been synonymous with its “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle in adverts and branded content during the last two decades. The slogan was created in an ambitious marketing campaign involving Justin Timberlake back in 2003 and it went on to be a huge success.

Mcdonald’s latest advertising success 

However, it recently brought in decorated director Edgar Wright – famous for his Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy of movies featuring Simon Pegg – to create a brand-new campaign titled “Raise Your Arches”. The campaign has been described as social-first due to its focus on driving brand awareness and engagement on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter.

Getting the man behind the camera of classics such as Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead to shoot the video is an inspired decision by McDonald’s and the ad certainly makes use of Wright’s snappy editing and upbeat, comedic timing. The message is clear without saying a word – everyone at work wants a McDonald’s and uses a raised eyebrow signal, mirroring the arches, to converge en masse.

The ad, created by Leo Burnett UK, has been a hit with viewers and critics alike, scoring an “exceptional” brand recognition score of 98 out of 100, according to System1’s Test Your Ad platform. Perhaps just as important, is that the ad fulfilled its intended target of evoking strong feelings of happiness.

McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle Graham-Clare says the “Fancy a McDonald’s” invitation in the ad felt right when many people are facing economic woes. She added: “In a challenging time, our Raise Your Arches invitation to McDonald’s provides the nation with a small but much-needed moment to let go and feel good.”

McDonald’s is also using the Snapchat and Instagram Lenses feature to allow users to literally raise the arches with an eye-catching animation which then urges fans to invite their friends to visit their local restaurant.

The new campaign certainly dovetails with McDonald’s ethos. The company’s mission statement “to make delicious feel-good moments” that are accessible for all is evident in Wright’s ad and its recent social media interactions supporting it. It also fits neatly across its five core values, which are ‘serve’, ‘inclusion’, ‘integrity’, ‘community’ and ‘family’. Everything is geared towards putting customers and people first and making them happy.

The success that McDonald’s has seen linking its core values to memorable mottos and marketing campaigns is similar to sports apparel giant, Nike, which became one of the most recognisable brands in the world thanks to its “Just Do It” adverts featuring some of the biggest football and golfing stars, such as Tiger Woods.

McDonald’s “I’m loving it” mantra serves a similar purpose but its new ad suggests it’s ready to experiment with new ways to reach and engage viewers on new platforms. The era of relying just on traditional TV campaigns is over and brands are trying to do more to tailor their content output for social media.

What can we learn from McDonald’s latest ad? 

So, what can businesses learn from McDonald’s latest foray into trendy marketing? The first is to be creative with video to drive clicks and engagement on social media. And to not only publish a single piece of content but consider how different aspects of marketing can be linked to it. Using unique features like Snapchat lenses can really help to enhance the user experience of marketing campaigns.

For general strategies to steal from McD’s, marketers should consider taking it back to basics and investing in several core products and marketing them to customers accordingly. What are your most popular products and is there the potential for them to reach a mass audience? The good news is that you won’t need a huge budget due to the accessibility of affordable content marketing and social media strategies.

McDonald’s has also been incredibly adept at appealing to different regional markets, though its core messages often remain the same. In India, for example, The #MealsMakeFamilies campaign focused on how its food makes relatable and memorable moments with family members, which is linked to its core values.

Like Nike, McDonald’s also has a long history of successful collaborations with big stars, which has extended beyond just ad campaigns. The company recently launched a special BTS Meal to appeal to fans of the hugely popular South Korean boy brand. Unique twists on its products help to freshen up its offerings for a short time without wholesale changes.

For brands and marketers, taking inspiration from McDonald’s playbook could be the key to driving growth, reach and engagement online. If you need a helping hand with this process, Atlas SEO can help. We offer a range of services, including social media management, which can increase your visibility across all the important social networks. Contact us today to find out more.

*followings at the time of writing.

Digital marketing

Have a question?