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McDonald’s: An Evolving Image

Posted: March 31, 2015, 3:13 p.m.
by Katie Vette.

“This is how people want to experience our brand,” said Tyler Litchenberger, McDonald’s communications manager for external relations.

Litchenberger has worked continuously on developing the McDonald’s brand, specifically the past few months with the launch of the “A Little More Lovin’ Can Change A Lot” campaign.

“We don’t really like the word ‘rebrand’; it’s more that our vision is evolving,” Litchenberger said.

205703126_5e50436650_oThe “I’m lovin’ it” slogan has been McDonald’s token phrase for over 10 years. The time had come for the company to put on a new face and take steps toward standing for something bigger than itself. That new face was Deborah Wahl. Wahl was hired on as McDonald’s chief marketing officer in early 2014, and that’s when real changes within the agencies began to flourish.

Wahl challenged the McDonald’s agencies, Litchenberger said. “To bring forward big ideas and Wahl championed the ‘Choose Lovin’ campaign and that’s why we, as a company, had to execute it perfectly,” she explained.

The McDonald’s team also worked closely with advertising company Leo Burnett to capture the teams’ vision that “A little lovin’ can change a lot” on screen. Beginning in January 2015, the “Choose Lovin’” movement took flight. The latest commercials running are the “McDonald’s: Signs” and “McDonald’s: Archenemies” ads portraying unlikely people and communities coming together and spreading the love.

It’s fair to say that the public hasn’t seen this more personable side of McDonald’s before. The “Choose Lovin’” campaign shines a light on what McDonald’s as a company stands for and what it has stood for in the past, said Litchenberger. Even if the public was less aware of its random acts of kindness, there are no questions now.

The goal of this campaign is to simply connect with people; there are more than 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States that serve millions of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and communities, said Litchenberger.

“So we asked ourselves, how can we play a positive role in their lives?” Litchenberger said.

Hitting home

3755905878_9d7d50e910_oRick Hanna Jr. owns six McDonald’s franchises with his business partner and father, Rick Hanna Sr., in the Tuscaloosa and Hoover, Alabama, areas. In addition to the “Choose Lovin’” ads, the “Pay with Lovin’” event began after the Super Bowl. Customers were chosen at random to pay with a form of “lovin’” instead of money. The campaign lasted 13 days, and Hanna’s restaurants alone gave away 600 meals.

“People don’t always say the things they feel, but this campaign gave them an opportunity,” Hanna said.

Hanna recalls his favorite moment of the “Pay with Lovin’” campaign at the Fayette McDonald’s location when a man was asked to call a loved one to tell them he loved them. The person the man called was his mother.

“He got very emotional and had a very personal conversation on speaker phone in front of my crew,” Hanna said.

Bring on the tissues. Hanna’s crew was also a key player in the “Pay with Lovin’” campaign. All 400 of his employees had the opportunity to make a person’s day, and they did just that. Hanna noted his employees’ biggest form of enjoyment was getting to tell people their amount due was dancing, singing the Big Mac jingle or any length to put a smile on a customer’s face.

“‘Pay with Lovin’’ ended Saturday [Feb. 14], and we have over one million stories from that one event,” Litchenberger said.

Twitter phenomena

Another way McDonald’s has been revamping its community-oriented vision is through Twitter. The mission was to simply connect with the community in brightening a stranger’s day. At random they searched phrases and hashtags on Twitter that indicated people were having rough days, like “cold winter” or “2015 stinks.”

“One girl had multiple tweets about how her boyfriend was so far away and how difficult long distance was. So, we sent her plane ticket to visit him,” Litchenberger said.

Other generous gifts McDonald’s sent in hopes of turning people’s days around included Keurigs, Xboxes and gift cards.

Giveaways continued during the Super Bowl when one of the largest Twitter conversations took place. McDonald’s tweeted positive comments about multiple Super Bowl commercials and whoever re-tweeted was eligible to win a prize. Most prizes aligned with the commercials’ content. A new 2015 Camry and Mercedes were given away in honor of sharing the love.

More to come

169060848_f73e2fa85e_oCreate Your Taste is another tactic McDonald’s is using to move forward in pleasing its customers. From selecting a type of bun to a type of cheese with Create Your Own Taste, customers can build their perfect burger. The Create Your Taste platform has only been active in four Southern California stores, but expansions are underway. Within 2015, 2,000 McDonald’s restaurants will have the Create Your Taste option.

Spread the love
We can all take a few pointers from McDonald’s stance on community and spreading the love. Kindness from a stranger is almost an unnatural occurrence in this day and age, and that is the saddest story of all. Take the challenge and start spreading the love in your community.

“There is so much negative in this world; I really think people like hating something more than they like loving it,” Hanna said. “And that’s why the company wants to focus on spreading the love; let’s do more loving and less hating.”


  1. Post comment

    Recently, McDonald’s has been attracting negative press due to its decline in sales and obvious lack of nutritious foods. However, McDonald’s and those signature golden arches continue to be a staple in American culinary lives. In order to sway the minds of some consumers, McDonald’s is trying to up the game with new marketing techniques and campaigns. The “A little lovin’ can change a lot” campaign brings a different approach to McDonald’s typical sales marketing practices. This series of various campaigns within “A little lovin’ can change a lot” shows the emotional and thoughtful side of McDonald’s as a whole company. This rarely seen side of the multi-billion-dollar corporation to the general population shows just how in tune McDonald’s is with customers who want to fully encompass the brand, not just visit the storefront. Through this new series of campaigns, McDonald’s is doing an incredible job advertising its company values and culture, not just its food. The best aspect of the campaigns is the emotional interaction with the customer and truly unique experience for them while visiting the storefront. If McDonald’s can focus on this personal aspect of its brand and continue to tug at emotional heartstrings, I know it will rise back up to the top and continue to be one of the top worldwide brands.


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