August 11, 2022

Digital Marketing Education

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McDonald’s hires Publicis for media

Long time duel

Publicis and Omnicom have dueled for McDonald’s business for years, including in 2017 when the fast feeder conducted a global media agency review that resulted in Publicis taking on media in France and portions of Latin America, with OMD retaining markets including Canada, China and Germany. But Publicis made more inroads in 2020 when it took on media planning in China (OMD kept buying). OMD in total controls 47 global markets for McDonald’s.

Publicis’ taking on U.S. media would mark the first major agency shakeup at the Golden Arches since the arrival of Tariq Hassan as its U.S. chief marketing and digital customer experience officer. Hassan arrived from Petco on Sept. 27 amid a cascade of executive changes, including the ascension of Hassan’s predecessor, Morgan Flatley, to global CMO.

The French holding company already has several restaurant brands on its media roster, including Chick-fil-A and Inspire Brands, the latter of which includes Arby’s and Dunkin. Its approach has been to create bespoke teams for those brands, such as the Media Engine Group formed in February 2020 for Inspire. 

McDonald’s has won plaudits for its creative advertising in recent years as it has widened its lead in the fast-food wars, in part through a series of celebrity endorsement deals that have met popular acclaim and inspired a number of rivals to pursue similar programs. McDonald’s officials say the secret to the Wieden+Kennedy New York-led “Famous Orders” campaign is in how it reminds consumers that they have a favorite order.

New media investments

McDonald’s has also made considerable progress on a newly launched loyalty app, collecting 21 million members in its first few months. The MyMcDonald’s Rewards app is considered a crucial avenue of communication with consumers, who can receive customized offers that improve the frequency of their visits, while earning rewards and other benefit perks. McDonald’s’ top fans earned as many as 70 rewards this year; the most popular giveaway was free fries, with 2.4 million orders.

Going forward, McDonald’s media agencies must help the fast feeder navigate spending decisions on new forms of media investments, including its strategy on NFTs and the metaverse. McDonald’s U.S. recently experimented with a promotion that accompanied the limited release of its McRib sandwich this year, offering an NFT picturing the sought-after sandwich.

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The win would add more momentum for Publicis Groupe. According to R3’s new business rankings published in October 2021, Publicis leads the holding company pack when it comes to U.S. media wins. The consultancy said Publicis won $155.8 million in U.S. media accounts for the first 10 months of the year as compared to Omnicom at No. 4, with $63 million. On a global scale, however, OMD recently won Chanel’s $500 million media account, but lost Eli Lilly’s U.S. media account to Publicis Groupe’s Zenith in November.

Contributing: Jon Springer, Brian Bonilla