Cannes Lions

Keep Up With The Times

OMD UK, London / MCDONALD'S / 2024

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Despite all the improvements McDonald’s had been making to food quality, we realised there was still a large percentage of the British public who weren’t aware and remained sceptical.

Digging deeper into audience demographic data revealed something interesting.

Our most sceptical customers were also our oldest. Our oldest age group (55+) were 15 points behind Food Quality perceptions vs our youngest group (16-24).

So the objective was simple – to boost overall Trust to 48% by the end of 2023, by winning over our most sceptical/oldest audience.


We conducted extensive research with our Trust Neutrals to discover what made them so sceptical. A picture began to emerge:

“they’ve been caught out so many times in the past, I don’t really believe they’ve changed.”

“I always remember there was that guy who just ate McDonald's for two weeks and showed how unhealthy it was”

They were from a generation when McDonald’s was defined by scandals and stigma. The spectre of Supersize Me loomed large in their attitudes. Despite our food quality changing a lot over the years, they hadn’t kept up.

This gave us a powerful insight:

Trust Neutrals formed their opinions in the 90s and stuck to them.

McDonald’s sceptics are stuck in the past when it comes to perceptions of our food quality.

So the brief was clear: to make any negativity about us feel comically out of date.


Our target audience were Trust Neutrals – a sceptical group who tended to be slightly older.

So to bring this insight to life, we developed an innovative media strategy: we’d get sceptics to reappraise the McDonald's’ brand by using media as outdated as their views.

This could be anything from meeting Trust Neutrals where they were on outdated websites, or accompanying throwback content with our own, to gently prod them to update their views, even if their tastes hadn’t changed since the 90s.

This didn’t stop with media, we’d also creatively borrow from the past, to transport our older audience back to their youth across the whole campaign.


We leveraged iconic media from the past.

At the heart was a breakthrough use of film media that brought back Teletext – the analogue TV service beloved in British culture two decades ago.

During the biggest TV shows of the year, broadcast cut to the nostalgic Teletext screen announcing the changes McDonald’s had made to their food quality since the nation last used this service.

This launched a 360 integrated campaign of retro 90s media: targeting reruns of old shows, old-school playlists on Spotify, and iconic retro sites (Myspace, MSN and AskJeeves) with slow-loading pixelated banners.

We even brought back the '90s broadsheet edition of Britain’s popular newspaper – The Times (last seen in 2004).

Our retro media continued through the line, bringing back “Chippy”, our own version of Microsoft’s OG assistant “Clippy”, in CRM. We even rolled our website and in-store advertising back to their 90s


The campaign was an immediate success. Social conversation, engagement and organic impressions were over double that of any other brand trust campaign.

The Times partnership was a special hit – with a 41% increase in Trust, and a 52% uplift in food quality to those exposed.

Amongst our target sceptical audience we successfully shifted perceptions.

‘Good Quality Food’ increased by 10 pts in the 55+ audience, five times the increase in all adults over the same period.

We also shifted our older adult’s behaviour.

During the campaign, traffic instore for 50+ adults was up 30% - the only group to increase at that time. This equalled a 2.5% increase in market share for that demographic.

All this meant we successfully drove Trust overall to its highest level ever for the brand.

Finally, the campaign delivered a ROMS of £4.12 – meaning that by spending £2.7M we delivered £11M incremental sales.

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