McDonalds Signs Commercial: You’re Not an Unsung Hero to Millennials

Have you seen this new McDonald’s ad?

McDonald’s would really like it if you would buy a happy meal today because they have been there for you through everything.

It’s Marketing Meeting Monday. McDonalds sales are down by 4.4%, and it’s time for a brand refresh. So they are listening to people in their marketing department talk about what millennials like. They like giving their business to companies that give back, and they like Tumblr. They also like photos that tell a story. They like funky music.

Tada! We have a commercial idea!

The McDonalds: Signs commercial appeared during the NFC divisional championship game on Sunday and also aired during the Golden Globes. If you gauge success by how fast people go to Twitter to talk about what you did, then it was a huge hit. However, if you judge success by what people say when they talk about you, it was a major fail for the McBurger factory. In fact, it was a lesson in corporate egotism.

That message was clear in the lashings that McDonalds received on Twitter, from funny mock “signs” photos to tweets that banish the commercial to corporate egotism.

Unfortunately, McDonalds, people just don’t like you.

They don’t like the idea that you are trying to sell happy meals with “Boston Strong” or Remember 9/11.” The video almost seems like an afterthought. Set to the tune “Carry On” by Fun, the commercial is anything but fun and uplifting. It’s depressing and a complete divide from their brand refresh with Justin Timberlake and “I’m lovin’ it” in the early 2000s. Also, it really just shows how no matter what, McDonald’s will be open–whether it’s in the middle of Hurricane Katrina or right after 2,996 people died from September 11th attacks. That’s not exactly a message that anyone wants to get down with.

So what is McDonald’s thinking with this commercial?

If you have read anything about millennials, then you know some of the major studies about their spending habits suggests that they love to support charities and give away money. It’s one of the most astounding facts about this generation. It’s also just assumed that millennials love Tumblr.

The signs in the McDonalds commercial are expected to convey how caring the company is, almost like it is an unsung hero for overcoming disasters, but it doesn’t do enough to capture that goal. It’s in fact nothing like the popular Thai Life Insurance commercial about the Unsung Hero, a video that received over 25,000,000 views and over 125,000 likes.

Of course, a life insurance company doesn’t sell chicken nuggets, but if you look at the imagery and message behind the Thai Life commercial, you see something much different than the all-too-literal signs in the McDonald’s brand refresh commercial.

In an article on AdAge “McDonald’s Launches Next Step in Brand Refresh With Signs,” CMO for McDonald’s Deborah Wahl said that they challenged partners to take a second look at “I’m lovin’ it.” But, the video hasn’t been able to do enough to change the brand’s image of a chemical burger factory.

In addition, the commercial targets their audience on Tumblr with the option for viewers to read more about the stories in the signs. This is problematic for several reasons.

  • Tumblr doesn’t really like corporations.
  • Tumblr doesn’t really enjoy fast food.
  • Tumblr doesn’t really like campaigns targeted at Tumblr.

Most of the posts on Tumblr received less than 15 notes or likes, which is another failure given that most Tumblr blogs aren’t seen by millions of TV viewers or have a multimillion dollar approach, and yet they can at least get 50 votes.

Advertisers have to remember when planning campaigns for this generation’s audience to avoid all types of corporate egotism and bravado. The next step for McDonald’s will likely involve pouring over the results from this campaign, tracking different metrics and hopefully concluding that the next commercial needs to send a bigger, more caring message without any hint of corporate egotism. The results of this will likely appear during the Super Bowl, a time when commercials have the spotlight and are known for being outrageous successes or Titanic-sized failures.

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