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Promotional Campaign Critique


The company “Create Your Taste” is associated with a serious decline in net sales of McDonald’s restaurants. The idea is to make your order like “Big Tasty” to be accepted quickly, and sold for an affordable price. This model was borrowed from restaurants like Chipotle (Koeppel 2016). It lies in the fact that the company emphasizes on the high quality of its ingredients and allows consumers to decide for themselves what kind of stuffing to choose for their burritos. This is done as a part of a program to increase sales. Now every client will have an opportunity to choose his own “Big Mac” with a special touch screen. The paper aims to discuss the effectiveness of measures taken by the fast-food corporation, in order to find out the connection between the company’s policy, global sales decline and changes in the industry (MacKenzie 2015). The “Create Your Taste” campaign can be seen in the light of several areas for research, which include communication and perception, the context of the main message of the campaign, the formation of agenda set by the management and further opinion formation around all of this (Horovitz 2014). Next areas are the framing techniques which help to show the set of techniques and instruments used by the McDonald’s, content analysis of the campaign, as well as the audience analysis and cultural influences for different regions, where the campaign was led. These sections are to discover and analyse the deepest intentions of management to promote the fast food. Moreover, this can be seen as an unique campaign because it was one of the first steps of previous CEO, Don Thompson, to rebrand the company within the frames of changing environment. The paper uses a set of media outlets, such as Mashable, Bandt, USA Today, local cites, such as Sydney Morning Herald, and official websites, They provide statistics for the paper and help to find the experts’ feedback regarding the policy. They are mainly used to justify the author’s opinion.


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Сommunication and Perception

Changes in the industry, primarily associated with the growing demand for individual orders, especially among people aged from 20 to 30 years caused the long-lasting decrease in sales for the global fast-food company. In order to change the situation, Don Thompson established the new strategy. However, as it is known, freedom comes at a certain price. McDonald’s had to sacrifice the main advantage, namely, fast food. On average, it takes about seven minutes to fully cook the burger of your dreams. The purpose of innovation is to push customers to order something more complicated than an ordinary cheeseburger. The packaging is also provided, in contrast to the usual menu of dishes, which are given in a cardboard box or even just a heavy paper; here we are waiting for dishes, worthy of Versailles (well, almost). Of course, the cost of burger, fries and cola will sum up to an average of $8 or more in Australia (Schetzer 2015). In some way, rebranding idea has come from competitors, like Chipotle, which has fully customized offers for their clients (Koeppel 2016). Reports of increase in 19,8% by the global network influenced McDonald’s management to change the concept of fast-food restaurant, which customer used to see for decades (Symington 2014).

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Before the company was tasked to develop a strategy to increase sales at McDonald’s and tell audience about the convenience and menu variety.

It is possible to identify the main benefits of audience on the way to McDonald’s in:

  1. Have the habit to eat out.
  2. People do not know that it is possible to create a burger.
  3. The presence of plurality of ingredients to attract more customers.

“Breakfast menu at McDonald’s is very tasty and varied”, “Breakfast/ lunch at McDonald’s will make your day special”: Based on basic consumer expectations and existing barriers, two messages, rational and emotional were formed. To solve this problem the company has developed a long-term comprehensive strategy, the first phase of which was launched in 2014. It includes the ATL campaign, changing the media inside the restaurant, as well as promotional campaign in social networks.

The first step was to simplify the formation of an order in the “unknown” morning menu. To do this, McDonald’s visitors were conditionally divided into three groups: the supporters of traditional home dishes morning, “hedonists” who want to get maximum pleasure from a breakfast, and rationalists-seekers benefit. The menu was also divided into sets that meet the needs and preferences of each group of visitors, set of products and price; along with the reorganization of media menu in the restaurant, which has received more light, morning views were also stylistically updated. The main focus of the ATL-campaign was biased towards emotional perception and technology. A key theme was a freedom of choice and a healthy diet. This corresponds to the design of restaurants and art created in the loft, which is already more like a restaurant than an ordinary fast food. In addition, duration of the order also increased; it now takes from 4 to 6 minutes (Riches 2015). The advertising campaign was using the following media channels: running commercials, launched a promotional campaign in social networks, and positive, images were developed by the Agency for outdoor advertising. In addition, in support of the campaign, the mood of morning was developed as a separate website that combines offline and online mechanics.

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Message Context

“Built by you. Made by us. Worth the wait” ( 2016). All the message may be divided into three parts, which shows different aspects of the promotional campaign. As it was mentioned, the main intention of the campaign was to ensure that McDonald’s has changed even to mention this is “un-McDonald’s” (MacKenzie 2015). This self-denying, on the first glance, builds anti-marketing, however, it is a tricky method used to involve new people to the company. With the complete redesign of the restaurant, as well as the menu, corporation developed new message with three different components. The first one “Built by you” comprises the whole rebranding strategy in three words. If to look from the semantic point of view, this message is first because it has the biggest influence on listeners or viewers. It gives the biggest impression of change: firstly, customization is unusual for the McDonald’s, especially “un” is used in advertisement as well, but for denying junky and only fast-food nature of corporation. “Made by us” is used to underline that this product is made by the corporation, and it partly denies the previous message, associating it with the company. This is also one of the tricks which can be seen through the lenses of framing when McDonald’s has created one frame and then switched to another, however, leaving the same basis for its fast-food skyscraper. The third part of the message is also aimed at defence of the company’s image, because new policy increased the waiting time from usual 60 seconds to 4-6 minutes. In order to ensure the increase of visitors, campaign showed this as an advantage because a client is waiting for a better product from the same company, but for a longer time.

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Public Opinion Formation

The company used a strategy as the company №1 who has been on the market for a long time. This strategy is defensive. The company has set a goal in a public sphere to protect its dominant position in the market and to rebuild itself as much as possible without losing positions on the market, for example, opening 2000 new locations with customization mode (Shah 2014). The company used the principle of defense №1- “deceive the enemy, but not himself.” McDonald’s also tried to produce the best products that exist in the fast food market, they should look better in the eyes of consumers and stand out from the competition to attract attention. The company also tried to immediately block the strong moves of competitors. For example, when a competitor has a new product, McDonald’s made a similar, as in case of Chipotle, but with better quality that would immediately take hold of the target audience, which only attracted company competitor to their products.

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Agenda Setting and Framing

Framing customers means creating news reports that show that McDonald’s is the best fast food service in the world. However, this concept has changed with the advent of advertising company “Create Your Taste”, which are targeted mainly on the uniqueness of the product, which is quite unusual for McDonald’s company (Carter 2015). Thus, the company has built a frame that denies previous experiences without changing it and improving. Regarding the frame “Being the best” vision provided by four strategies:

  • Promote healthy food;
  • Create a unique atmosphere;
  • Provide customers with freedom of choice;
  • Reunite the unique service and delicious food in a way to change image of the company (Mackenzie 2015).

First, the goal meets the necessary criteria, such as the far-sightedness. This frame is also realistic, since all that it includes in itself, the company is able to carry out. Frame motivates and inspires employees to provide a high-quality food and services. In addition, the frame is simple and laconic, it may be easy to remember and repeat. In addition, the frame is aimed at a younger audience, which tends to eat healthy foods, and for which an old quick-service frame is not already running. The video shows a typical representative of the younger generation, who works in the office and has an average income ( 2016). Thus, the company has created a new frame, which is attractive for those who love high-quality and relatively quick service and healthy food.

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Content Analysis

To understand the campaign’s context, the analyst should analyse the main page of the campaign in order to identify the main messages and hidden meanings. After the closer look at the “”, the next content may be identified:

  • Changed background. As it was mentioned above, for this campaign McDonald’s has changed its famous combination of red and yellow for more luxurious and popular schemes used for expensive restaurants. Here the user can see the stylish grey background with burger and different plates with ingredients, which underlines the “customization” policy of McDonald’s.
  • Promotional video. This medium is used to show the fast process of choosing and preparing the dishes. The big touchscreen, the biggest innovation is also shown on the video, showing how to choose the ingredients and burger. Video is made in colourful scheme and with fast movement.
  • Feedback section. This section is important because it shows auditory of the restaurant, which seems uncommon for the rest of places. Different social platforms ensure the maximal reach of customers via social media.
  • Sub-sections. Restaurant-locator simplifies the search for place, while Ingredients section is helpful for people for whom it is new. What is happening is the most interesting because it explains the modification and helps customers to get in touch with the new campaign.

Audience Analysis

In this instance, the company has developed a strategy differentiable marketing and a separate target segment marketing, advertising strategy that allowed not to wash out a communication strategy that focuses on each individual segment and to focus on the audience from 20 to 30 years old. At this age, young people already are free to decide on the purchases and already have certain values. In this instance, it is important to remember about addiction to a particular design and to healthy food lifestyle. The concrete floor can not identify the target audience because this fast food restaurant is visited equally by both men and women. The speed of service is not very important, as other fast-food companies are also ready to offer it, but the service and taste of products play crucial roles. Consequently, this segment of the target audience of brand is already working and is a progressive young man. As for another important criterion for determining the income of the audience, most of them are people with not very limited amount of funds, but enough to occasionally eat at a fast food restaurant. Basically, in this age, people already have a permanent job. The purpose of a restaurant visit is for them is to talk to friends, while eating a tasty meal. Summing up, portrait representative of this group is as follows: a young man, an office worker from 22 to 30 years, whose life still consists of entertainment and pleasure, but he still has the desire to think about health; the group representatives prefer to dress casually (i.e., wearing a bright, high-quality, youth clothing) and coming into the restaurant to talk with friends and eat. For such customers, the company has expanded its range of food, and now people can taste different kinds of salads. Also, many restaurants open a real coffee shop (McCafe) with its special atmosphere, music and service, the target audience of which are the business people who might be willing to spend there a small business meeting or just enjoy a meeting with friends.

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Cultural Influences

In general, a campaign can be seen as successful because of the increase in sales after a continued period of losses. However, the Australian market and campaign were the most successful. The reason for that has become the cultural specifics of local inhabitants who were looking forward to new policies even in such a well-established and non-flexible place as McDonald’s. According to analyst from international company IBISWorld, Alen Allday, the corporation took the best place because of the local factor. The target at people who visited small shops as Urban Burger and Lord of the Fries was successful because of the popularity of brand and its attractiveness with a new offer. However, it includes a few factors, which are significant for this case: for the period from 2010 to 2015, Starbucks closed 61 to 85 cafes because of the growing popularity of small cafes (Schetzer 2015). In this occasion, McDonald’s step towards logo-less restaurants was successful because it perfectly fitted the culture of small cafes. In the case of Australia, big multinationals suffered because of their aggressive marketing, while McDonald’s has chosen the right strategy to use small restaurants with hipster design. Moreover, this was a part of the worldwide strategy, which makes this stepping stone even better, as it seems at first. Thus, the cultural aspect of attractiveness of small cafes with baristas was chosen instead of creating large restaurants which would not be successful on the market. This strategy, remaining denotative, was successful because of the well-conducted market analysis and perfectly fitting the recent trend of small stylish cafes.


This paper has analyzed marketing and communication activities of the company, which occupies a leading position in the fast food market in the world. As it can be seen from this campaign, a bright and interesting history of the brand for a long time would be forgotten if not for its rebranding. To date, the company has clearly seen the weak link - to form an opinion about the company’s products, which is harmful to the body. One of the main goals of the campaign was to change the prevailing negative opinion of the company with the conviction of the target audience in reverse production of the company is a healthy food. In connection with the current trend in modern society about the need to protect nature, the environment and help the needy, company conducted rebranding. It changed its traditional style into the loft, using modern popular designs to attract more customers. In order to convey to consumers the new philosophy of the company and thereby win the loyalty of the formulated goal - consumer awareness about re-branding of the company, an explanation of its philosophy. It was also necessary to develop a marketing plan to win the loyalty of new target audiences of the company. It should be noted that the target audience of the McDonald’s brand is enormous. However, for this campaign, mainly young people (21-30 years old) and women who are trying to eat healthy were chosen; these people might not have sufficient funds for expensive restaurants. The market segment is a group of people anxiously relating to environmental issues and those who want to make a small contribution to help children in difficult situations. To strengthen its leading position in the market, strategies for marketing communications have been developed, as well as additional marketing solutions were offered for the formation of active cooperation with the new market segments. With the new campaign, Mcdonald’s was able to establish two-way communication with the customer, adapt to trends occurring in society, in case of small restaurants in Australia.



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