McDonald's calls Happy Meal pitch

McDonald's has called a pan-European pitch for its Happy Meals

product as it kicks off a new strategy that favours pan-European

advertising campaigns.



The fast-food chain is seeing pitches from Leo Burnett, DDB and TBWA

with a view to appointing one network to develop creative for Happy

Meals, its core children's products.



Crucially, agency sources do not yet know whether McDonald's will hand

the appointed network both the strategy and implementation or simply a

strategic brief that required local advertising agencies to create work

for local markets.



The three agencies involved all have places on the McDonald's

international roster. Leo Burnett was appointed by McDonald's 20 years

ago, DDB handles creative in the majority of markets outside the UK and

TBWA's French agency, TBWA@BDDP, handles the Happy Meal business in

France.



McDonald's has appointed John Hawkes, previously its chief marketing

officer in the UK, to the role of European group marketing officer as it

increases its pan-European marketing activity. Until now it has tended

to create campaigns for each market individually. Local agencies will

remain in place, but Hawkes will build closer working relationships

between them.



The Happy Meal is vital to McDonald's fortunes in maintaining high

levels of consumption and awareness among children. Previous McDonald's

ads for Happy Meals focused on big tie-ins such as a link with BBC

Worldwide in the UK that led to the launch of Tweenies Happy Meals.

Bigger global deals struck with companies including Mattel would lend

themselves to pan-European creative work.



McDonald's usually runs a large Happy Meals promotion backed by

advertising each summer with other activity throughout the year. Last

year in the UK its promotion was "TV favourites" and included models of

characters.



The review will not directly affect Leo Burnett's hold on the £37

million UK McDonald's creative account. The network lost the US account

to DDB Needham in 1997. However, Burnett still handles advertising to

children and teenagers in the US.



Despite losing the US account, Burnett's relationship with McDonald's in

the UK has led to award-winning campaigns, most recently for its "Alan

Hansen" and "estate agent" spots.



In the past year McDonald's has focused its spend on specific promotions

but its Christmas corporate advertising signals a move back toward

brand-building activity.



A McDonald's spokeswoman said: "The process is still ongoing and has yet

to be decided."



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