By 2006, consumers seemed to be falling out of love with McDonald's, which had entered a period of stagnation. The business needed to reinvent itself to entice back customers at a time when there was a flat demand for quick-service restaurants. A dip in high-street retail and declining trust in big companies also made for an unpromising backdrop to recovery.
The business went back to fundamentals: overhauling the menu to introduce more variety and healthier options; updating restaurants, and investing in staff training. It also reviewed its entire marketing strategy, following research with customers, staff and franchisees.
This confirmed that McDonald's had to rebuild trust to get people to reappraise the brand. To deliver a consistent brand approach, McDonald's introduced a four pillared framework that is now the basis for all marketing activity. This approach has allowed McDonald's to simplify its marketing strategies, established around the brand's values of value, variety, favourites and trust.
With this bedrock, the company has delivered 24 successive quarters of growth since 2006, on the back of new initiatives and hard-hitting marketing activity. New products such as wraps and the Full Bean coffee range have broadened appeal.
Marketing activity also used experiential activity such as the 'Too tasty to put down' launch for wraps, which saw street performers performing one-handed tricks as seen in TV ads. These were extended to YouTube, producing the highest purchase motivation scores for three years.
Loyal customers weren't forgotten. Menu favourites have long been important and communications were reinvigorated with campaigns reminding people what they love about the brand.
Rebuilding trust has been a big part of the work, with ads explaining food quality and business practices, plus grass-roots initiatives such as a community football campaign.
The pillars helped deliver a step-change in the impact of communications with better branded and more enjoyable, motivating and relevant communications that have encouraged people to feel good about the brand.
Since 2006, McDonald's has enjoyed its strongest sales and marketing return on investment has strengthened, while customer numbers have increased. Judges praised the fact that insight was placed at the heart of all activity to deliver 'fantastic results', to the extent that many other markets have adopted the UK model.
'This is a business at the top of its game, with campaigns demonstrating terrific integration. A phenomenal story,' they said.
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