Link: Not Yet
Target: Attention, K-Mart Shoppers
The spot opens with a shot of a shower running in a crowded apartment which has a sink in the same room. Which would be funny if some of us did not live in Manhattan. The voiceover says “A Shower in the Kitchen. That’s one way to save money.” Then we see product shots from McDonalds culminating with a cheeseburger for $1.29.
Everyone loves low prices.
McDonalds, for years the powerhouse of fast food chains is clearly on the ropes. It is reeling from the combined effects of the death of two popular CEOs, a well regarded, critical documentary (Super Size Me), shifting consumer preferences and a newly resurgent Burger King that seems to have found its voice. Nowhere is this more visible than in McDonalds marketing efforts, which seem to have come from the belly of a pinata in random sizes and shapes. It’s sad to say that the highpoint of the year may have been getting Ronald McDonald interviewed by MSNBC, which was accomplished by giving him a makeover as part of the “Go Active Campaign.” Interviewing a fictional corporate mascot dressed as a clown also marks the lowpoint of the year for MSNBC – and we’re counting the Michael Jackson trial here.
The brand positioning for McDonalds this year seems to be ‘all things to all people’ which is no positioning at all.
McDonalds was a genius brand when they created a safe place with no surprises that parents could tolerate and kids would love. Over the years these McDonald’s kids grew up and continued eating there as adults (including a small group of heavy male eaters who account for an astonishing portion of food sales), but McDonalds stuck persistently to the family as the core user for the brand. This paid dividends as adults were drawn back to McDonalds by the connection to childhood experiences and the desire for trusted food. If food was a friend, McDonalds was family.
With the”One Way to Save Money” campaign, McDonalds seems to be trying its hardest to kill this brand equity. And we suspect that this desperation is born from a misconception about why people really come to McDonalds to begin with. Current management seems to think that it’s about the burgers. Since burgers are facing declining popularity, McDonald’s has set off a two-pronged strategy to move aggressively into healthier fare (a Fruit and Walnut Salad was the big introduction this year) and position the classic items as value offerings. Which is where this spot fits in. The problems by the numbers:
- Unclear imagery – apart from the unintended insult to urbanites, the basic proposition of this spot – saving money by putting the shower in the kitchen – was not clear. Were there some dishes in the shower? We are not sure, but otherwise it’s not obvious where the money savings comes from.
- ‘Cheap’ is not a good brand Positioning – Even Wal-Mart, the Darth Vaders of cheap, know enough to create a value proposition for consumers by talking about consistent low prices for stuff you buy anyway and would pay more for elsewhere. Really cheap burgers are a great way to start a price war in fast food, erode McDonald’s brand image and devalue the company. Or a quick bid to boost sales and allow shareholders to cash out before consumers desert the chain in droves and the share value plummets.
- Poor Execution – You get a strong sense that the agency did not have their heart in this spot as the direction, timing and tempo of this spot all seem below the usual standards. Which is just as well. A bad idea executed perfectly would not have been better.
Branding Bottom Line -
Bargain basement branding sells McDonalds short.