Looking back I find it a bit silly that I haven’t talked about Maccy D’s before on this blog. From one look at me, you’ll see that I’m certainly no stranger to fast food.
People don’t want the best burger in the world; they want a burger that’s just like the one they had last time
And whilst I’m probably more likely to be found ‘dining with The Colonel’ - buried in a bucket of self-hatred, I’m still a huge admirer of the Big Mac and all it’s derivatives.
I’m not alone in this. One of my favourite chaps in marketing Rory Sutherland waxes lyrical about McDonalds, and like me he looks as though he’s been a few times. As you’d expect from the founder of Ogilvy Change, he couches his praise in behavioral economics terms, rather than advertising and brand iconography. You see he argues that people value consistency, predictability, and avoidance of disappointment more than they value perfection. In a sentence; “People don’t want the best burger in the world; they want a burger that’s just like the one they had last time.” An insight which signified McDonalds making the huge departure from the traditional American diner format (with the bloody great tome of a menu), to what we know today.
When you think about it, there’s a perfectly logical evolutionary reason why familiar foods taste better, and we gravitate towards them. You see, primitive humans lived with the constant anxiety that their food might make them ill or even poison them, so familiar taste was a good sign they were safe.
Anyway, before you start having my post re-directed to Rory Sutherland’s arse, I’ll let you see the ad that got me thinking, its by Leo Burnett…for McDonalds…obviously.
I think the copywriting is excellent, and the ad really works as a result.
I think that it’s a perfect example of Maccy D’s transformation over the last ten years or so. It’s fair to say that as a society, we’re far more health conscious. We’re probably not eating any better, but we’re certainly feeling guiltier about eating badly, a pattern of euphoric indulgence followed by crushing shame.
So to reflect the shift in the zeitgeist, McDonald’s subtly changed their menus, including salads and other healthy (ish) options. And the most interesting thing from our perspective, as creative agency types, was their colour palette. They ditched the bright red and yellow, in favour of warmer, darker greens and browns, all of which imply natural ‘plantiness’.
They’ve certainly come a long way since this sort of thing, which even though clearly aimed at kids - just seems a bit baffling if I’m honest…
I think ditching Ronald was definitely a good move, although I feel sorry for him. Mind you they’ve probably given him a cushy job somewhere in the organisation. Fat pension too I imagine…lucky smiley bastard.
I think the other reason I like this trees ad is that it plays into everyone’s ideal perception of what a farm is like, and therefore where their food comes from.
When I read ‘free range’ on my box of eggs in the morning, I like to imagine the hens yomping through the open Berkshire countryside, carefree. Perhaps even taking the Land Rover for a Sunday drive, a couple on the steering wheel, one on each of the pedals.
Land Rover aside perhaps, Leo Burnett have really taken this image and run with it, and I think it’s jolly good.