McDonald's has called a pan-European pitch for its Happy Meals
product as it kicks off a new strategy that favours pan-European
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
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
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
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
A McDonald's spokeswoman said: "The process is still ongoing and has yet
to be decided."