McDonald’s $1.2bn business is OMD’s chance to go large

You can’t get more global than McDonald’s. It would be hard to find another more corporate, international and deliberately bland company.

My opinion was reinforced on a recent break to Prague where, after several pints of foaming Czech ale, a trip to one of the dozens of golden-arched sugar and meat emporiums was needed.

It was just like being back in Blighty. The same “I’m lovin’ it” posters, pretty much the same plastic décor and the same painted-on grins from the staff. The food was the same too, which would horrify many but reassured me (you can only eat so much goulash and dumplings).

I would guess that McDonald’s media requirements in the Czech Republic are pretty much the same as they are in the UK, the US or the United Arab Emirates. This might explain, along with its urgent need to generate savings, why it has taken the step of appointing its first global media agency, Omnicom’s OMD, to service its $1.2 billion business.

Now, numbers this big are frightening so, before anything else, congratulations must go to the relatively nascent OMD network in capturing the business. This was its first truly global win. OMD has been strong in Europe, under its European chief executive, Colin Gottlieb, and his team, for more than a year now and is a credible challenger to Carat in that region.

In the US, its global chief executive, Joe Uva, had brought in the chief executive, Page Thompson, to pull together its offering. Uva, an impressive, voluble character with masses of US media experience, freely acknowledged there was still work to do in Latin America and Asia.

He and his team have obviously convinced McDonald’s, already a client in the US and Mexico (to name two key markets), that OMD is up to scratch. No mean feat given that, two years ago, the idea of OMD landing such consolidated business was laughable.

The manner of OMD’s triumph was also unusual — behind-the-scenes consideration of each incumbent (including Starcom MediaVest Group and MediaCom) but no formal pitch. I wouldn’t criticise McDonald’s for this: an overly protracted and costly review process seems to be a necessity for most clients. The reasons for reviewing could form a checklist for every global media review of the past year. Larry Light, its global chief marketing officer, wanted to encourage efficiencies and value for money. The collapsing of local agency agreements was identified, rapidly, as the right solution.

Not the right solution for Starcom Motive, however, which loses the £38 million UK account after doing an apparently decent job. This probably doesn’t matter much to McDonald’s, which bases its appeal on a safe ubiquity (look at the current “I’m lovin’ it” campaign). But it would be a dull old world if yet another account were shorn of good ideas. OMD UK: the challenge is on.

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