Analysis of McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” ad Campaign
In January 2011, McDonald’s announced that its earnings in fourth quarter in the previous year rose 2.1 percent despite of a slump in demand in December due to extreme weather in U.S. and Europe. Analysts credited the success of McDonald’s to the “Plan to Win” strategy which was first introduced by James R. Cantalupo in 2003 after overexpansion caused the chain to suffer heavy losses. The core of the plan was to increase sales at existing locations by enhancing the menu, redesigning the outlets, extending hours and advertise the brand across the world. James Cantalupo cut back on the opening of new outlets and focused on generating more sales from the existing ones. McDonald’s tried to attract more customers by introducing new products and emphasizing on healthier foods along with line of fancier salads. This revamped menu was promoted through a new worldwide ad campaign which has a slogan “I’m lovin’ it”.
Target Market for the ad campaign
McDonald’s has chains in more than 122 countries. “I’m lovin’ it” was the company’s global ad campaign and was created by Heye and Peter, an ad agency based near Munich in Germany. Larry Light, head of global marketing at McDonald’s, insisted in 2002 that the firm had to exploit the brand by pushing it in different directions. The brand could be positioned differently in different locations and at different time of the day by targeting different customer segments. It was therefore a multi format strategy and the target market for this global ad campaign was different customer segments in different locations and time preferences. McDonald’s was therefore targeting young adults, teenagers, children and adults all across the world.
Objective for the Ad campaign
Through this campaign, McDonald’s wanted to ensure that it did not alienate from any of its target groups in its efforts to reach out to others. ‘I’m lovin’ it’ took different forms in order to target each of the segments that it was seeking. The effectiveness of the ad campaign could be measured by increase/ decrease in sales across the globe and change in brand awareness.
Creative Strategy used for the campaign
McDonald’s is one of the most prominent fast food advertisers in the world and it spends the largest amount of money in advertising for any fast food chain. ‘”I’m lovin’ it” was launched in Munich, Germany on September 2, 2003 under the German title ‘ich liebe es’. The campaign was launched in English on September 21, 2003 in Australia and in the U.S. on September 29, 2003 by pop icon- Justin Timberlake in a ‘MTV style’ gig. The slogan “I’m Lovin’ it” was translated in local language in countries like China, France, Egypt, Kuwait, Chile, Brazil, Ukraine and Latvia. On September 3, 2003, McDonald’s selected 30 people of different ethnicities to appear in a new packaging ad for their products. ‘I’m lovin’ it’ theme package was thus unveiled in 2004 and Mc Donald’s selected 24 people to be a part of their ad campaign.
Mc Donald’s creative strategy was based on targeting their customers who were of different age groups and in different countries. Moreover, the translation of their advertisements in local languages was aimed at targeting people who considered McDonald’s to be a part of their extended family. This creative strategy was in line with the firm’s target markets and target segments.
Techniques Used to Send Message to the target audience
McDonald’s used celebrities to send its message to its target audience. In the U.S., the campaign was launched with the music of Tom Batoy and Franco Tortora and vocals by Justin Timberlake. It also used Ronal McDonald , the clown, to promote its ad slogan in its outlets and other forms of advertising. The use of celebrities and figures created a positive impact in the minds of its consumers as the biggest consumers of McDonald’s products were children, teenagers and young adults. Justin Timberlake, in 2003, was hugely popular among young adults and teenagers. Ronald McDonald, the company’s clown, was also adored by children and families. The promotion of the ad campaign through these celebrities was a well planned decision; as it established a strong connect with the large section of the target audience.
The message ‘I’m loving it’ was translated in more than 50 language across the world. Since the slogan conveyed universal feelings of love and warmth, people all over the world could relate to it and it established a resonance with the target market.
This ad campaign, which started in 2003, was a part of the firm’s ‘Plan to Win’ Strategy’ which was formed after it posted a first ever quarterly loss of $343.8 million in 2002. Mc Donald’s customer-centric ‘Plan to Win’ strategy provided a common vision to its global business while allowing for local adaptation. It relies on five pillars, People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion. For promotion, the company’s ad campaign focused on ‘Over all McDonald’s experience’ rather than just the product.
There was a strong connection between the ad message and the product, because McDonalds wanted to expand the idea of being only a ‘burger chain’. They wanted people to experience long lasting memories and try different varieties in their outlets. “I’m lovin’ it” campaign is definitely remembered as it is still very much in use, 11 years since it was first introduced.
2010 McDonald’s “I’m Loving it Poster”
Development of the Ad campaign and other aspects
The ad campaign was developed by Heye & Partner, an advertising agency based in Unterhacing, Germany. The company was a member of DDB Worldwide Communications Group, Inc. The slogan was used for the first time in a commercial that portrayed people from all over the world having fun and eating burger, fishing off with McDonald’s “M” and the slogan “I’m Lovin’ It”. Justin Timberlake was the singer and it was a series of 5 advertisements on television. The advertisement was aired on television and later, it was formatted for other media vehicles such as press, radio and internet. The frequency of the advertisements was pretty consistent and it is still very much in use. In 2010, after more than a year of research and brainstorming, McDonald's global chief marketing officer unveiled an updated version of its iconic, 7-year-old "I'm Lovin' It" campaign before an audience of 15,000, marketers, suppliers and franchisees. The exposure of the campaign was tremendously effective as the slogan “I’m lovin’ it” became synonymous with McDonalds. It was an ‘intensive exposure’ campaign that was launched in more than 122 countries and in different languages. In 2004, McDonald’s had released its “I’m lovin’ it” advertisements during the Olympic Games in Athens and these ads featured Justin Timberlake, Serena Williams and Basket ball star Yao Ming. This gave an additional exposure to the campaign.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Ad campaign
“I’m lovin’ it” campaign was a grand success for McDonalds. Apart from the rise in sales and profits, the burger chain’s brand value increased too. Eight months after the campaign’s inception, McDonald’s conducted a survey in 10 of its top countries (as per sales). The result was an 86% overall awareness of its products, which included 89% young adults and 87% mothers. The popularity of the slogan “I’m lovin’ it” translated clearly and effectively to every language and culture and caught the attention of the customers in the U.S, which was McDonald’s biggest consumer market. Even today, in 2014, if you ask anyone in U.S. or any other country about the origin of “I’m lovin’ it”, they would reply with “McDonald’s”.
McDonald’s has achieved its objective of building memorable experiences through this advertising campaign. In 2012, the total revenues of the chain were $18,603million. The total number of outlets (sum of company-related restaurant and franchised restaurant) stood at 34,480, an increase of 2.9% from 2011. This shows that the company, along with its robust ad campaign has been doing extremely well. Since its inception in 2003, “I’m lovin’ it” ad campaign has sustained itself and created a distinct brand image for McDonald’s. Looking at the campaign strategy and its execution, I wouldn’t have done anything differently because it proved to be effective, long lasting (still going strong in 2014) and profitable.
There is no reason why McDonald’s shouldn’t say “I’m lovin’ it”!
Kotler, Phillip. Keller Kevin L. Marketing Management 4th ed. Washington. Pearson, 2011. Print.
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