McDonald’s Writer Ad. Storytelling Fail?

McDonald’s recently commissioned a story-styled 90 second spot entitled “Writer”.

The ad  was created by TBWA Madrid and produced by Agosto in an attempt to engage audiences and build the brand in a digitally connected age.

The story is of an older female writer who frequents a McDonald’s store on a daily basis.  She appears to have a crush on a teenage till worker (stalkerish behavior?). Watch.

Why McDonald’s Attempt at Brand Storytelling -in this instance- is a Fail

Telling a brand story is not a fad.  If not done properly it can backfire. The key factor in the success or failure of a brand story is its connection with the brand’s values.

In my opinion, McDonald’s failed here.  There is no connection with any of the brand’s traditional values (family, good service, fast food, etc). Or if there is, I don’t see it.

In the immortal words of David Ogilvy:

A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself.

While there’s no doubt the story is very well told, it completely contradicts what the McDonald’s Brand stands for.

Viewers are left remembering the story but not the brand.

Do you agree/disagree?  Discuss below.

  • Alexander besher

    Can’t say I agree with you that this Spain commercial is a McFailure. Everyone knows what McDonald’s is; there are 423 outlets in Spain, they’re doing good. Why should they trumpet the cliches about “Family, Faithfulness” bla bla bla. They’ve got enuf of that already . . in Spanish. This was a refreshing change: An artistic story, Almodovar-esque even, about the “older woman” (foxy!) writer (INTELLECTUAL) who hangs out (this is the unbelievable part) at McD’s to write. In consecutive order, you see a coffee (they wanna build that brand aspect, esp in Europe, right?) and a soft drink, with MAYBE a nano-warp speed flash of a burger. What do you get for one Euro in an economically depressed country anyway? She’s gets this fantasy relationship–i.e. a young stud Muse who works there. That inspires her to WRITE. So McD’s is stressing, among their many generic Spanish ads, that this is a place where you can MEET PEOPLE, not just burgers. Social McMedia. The unbelievable thing is–since I don’t watch these commercials–is that the dude then spots one of her books in a BOOKSTORE. (Promoting literacy & culture.) He buys not a burger but a BOOK. Then unbelievably he opens up the front page and sees that it’s dedicated to him–IN ENGLISH, of all lingos: “To Daniel, for being there.” Why not in Spanish? That’s the letdown, not the other crap.

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  • Raf Stevens

    Absolutely agree with Omar, and David Ogilvy. Rewatch the video and count how many times McDo puts the logo of their brand in the first line. Furthermore I feel McDo wants to push a few product messages here (as the comment of Alexander clearly shows: coffee, intellectual audience,…). Compared with the video of eg P&G and the Olympics the video of McDo is not only a failure but a good example of bad brand storytelling.

    • Freddy

      This forum needed shaking up and you’ve just done that. Great post!

      • Omar Kattan

        Thanks Freddie, I thought so too. Not that it’s a bad ad, it just misses the point of on-brand storytelling. I’m sure they” learn from this and create better ads in the future. Thanks for you input.

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  • Lennie Appelquist

    For me this spot was more of a mixed bag than a total failure. I agree with Omar that McDonald’s core values of family, good service, food, etc are not represented here, but this spot wasn’t produced for an American audience.

    McDonald’s means different things to different people outside of the U.S. It is more of a destination, a home away from home, or like Starbucks’ Howard Schultz describes the feeling, “A third place between work and home.”

    In Moscow I witnessed McDonald’s s a date night destination where patrons (mostly well dressed couples) brought their own beer and wine to accompany their Big Macs. After dinner they moved to the McCafe… Different things to different people.

    So I am going to align a bit more with Alexander, feeling that while not right for an American audience, it is overall not a bad piece of storytelling…

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