Advertiser of the year is the one category that can often be relied
upon to throw up a clear winner even before discussions have begun. Not
so this year. The early favourite to triumph for the second year running
was Volkswagen, which had a hugely impressive 1998. Another strong
contender was One2One, which last year saw the coming-of-age of its ’Who
would you most like to have a One2One with?’ campaign.
But once all the reels had been seen and the documents analysed,
Campaign was all but unanimous. In terms of quality, range and
effectiveness, 1998 was McDonald’s year.
McDonald’s advertising has travelled a long way since the days of Ronald
McDonald and the Hamburgler. The turning point came in 1994, when
Interpublic acquired Burger King’s agency, Ammirati and Puris, and
merged it with Lintas, which handled McDonald’s. McDonald’s took its
business out of Lintas and handed it to Leo Burnett.
Since then its advertising has improved enormously, but McDonald’s has
faced other problems. In 1998, Burnett and McDonald’s faced the
Herculean task of winning back the public’s affections after the PR
nightmare of the so-called McLibel trial in 1997.
McDonald’s won the case but endured a bad press, particularly when the
judge accused it of exploiting children in its advertising.
In spite of such difficulties, the warm, family-oriented advertising
created by Burnett has paid off for McDonald’s, which has succeeded in
overcoming its corporate American roots to become an essential part of
British culture. The branding work, which last year included ’clever
daddy’ and the Alan Shearer-starring ’signature’, managed to be touching
without being sentimental, and the price promotion ads (’You too could
make a load of money doing absolutely nothing’) were some of the
funniest on TV last year.
Campaigns for the Walt Disney promotions with Hercules and Mulan and for
McDonald’s Happy Meals all contributed to the good name of the
But easily the advertising highlight of McDonald’s year was its role as
official sponsor of the 1998 World Cup.
McDonald’s World Cup advertising achieved spontaneous awareness figures
of 15 per cent, higher than any other World Cup advertiser. McDonald’s
was also the best-known official World Cup sponsor, with 25 per cent of
all adults showing unprompted awareness of McDonald’s as a sponsor,
higher than for Coca-Cola and Adidas, which have both had much stronger
associations with football in the past.
In a survey designed to show the British public’s favourite World Cup
ad, McDonald’s also came out top. The commercial, a parody of the Eric
Cantona Eurostar ads, in which the philosophising Frenchman was replaced
by Alan Shearer contemplating the chances of getting his hands on a Big
Mac in Paris, was rated higher than the Nike ad featuring Ronaldo and
the Adidas spot starring David Beckham.
Small wonder that McDonald’s US agencies actually look to the UK for
inspiration. In 1998, McDonald’s scored the second-highest advertising
recall for the year after BT. And this with an adspend of pounds 40
million, less than a third of BT’s huge budget. Last year, its brand
share increased from 74.5 per cent to 77.4 per cent based on a share of
the number of hamburger meals eaten in restaurants, while Burger King’s
fell, according to figures from AGB Taylor Nelson.
McDonald’s advertising remains streets ahead of that of its competitors,
with Burger King’s tactics looking increasingly desperate. This was the
year in which Burger King launched its Big King burger to rival the Big
Mac in a commercial that used the Frankie Goes to Hollywood track, Two
Tribes, in a thinly-veiled attempt to taunt McDonald’s.
Another sponsorship deal announced last year was the Millennium Dome
which, like the World Cup tie-up, is designed to reinforce McDonald’s
British credentials. If it is half as successful as the World Cup
sponsorship, the pounds 9 million McDonald’s is reported to be providing
will be money well spent.
Two other clients, VW and One2One, were singled out for
VW, the 1997 advertiser of the year, continued to produce great
advertising with its long-standing agency, BMP DDB, and was awarded the
highest-ranking five stars at the 1998 IPA Advertising Effectiveness
The year saw the coming-of-age of One2One’s ’Who would you most like to
have a One2One with?’, which has been credited with giving the brand a
second chance and was singled out as the best new entrant at last year’s
IPA Advertising Effectiveness awards.
In 1996, when Bartle Bogle Hegarty devised the campaign, One2One was a
brand in poor health and under serious competitive threat from Vodafone,
Cellnet and Orange. By 1997, the One2One customer base had grown more
than any other network - a year-on-year increase of more than 150 per
In 1998, BBH created five spots for One2One: ’Ian 2 Martin’, Trevor 2
Frank’, ’scoop’, ’Manawa’, and ’Stuart’, starring the the garrulous
sports commentator, Stuart Hall.
But the best was saved until last. The chance to have a One2One with
John Lennon tempted Chris Evans to appear in his first television
Recent winners: Volkswagen (1997); Orange (1996); Daewoo (1995); Tesco
(1994); Woolworths (1993).