Cannes Lions

McDonald's In Common


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Our research showed that when it came to emotional relevance, McDonald’s was falling behind in three key cultural relevant categories against our competitors: 1) perception as a relatable brand, 2) food that consumers feel good about eating and 3) being a brand that people trust.

We knew we had lost our way with too heavy of a focus on price and value messaging. We neglected what those iconic golden arches mean to millions of Americans—a symbol of happiness and feel good moments—regardless of your background.

We recognized it was time to remind people what McDonald’s is all about. Our objective was simple: make consumers feel like McDonald’s “is a brand for someone like me” again.


To reflect McDonald’s support of all communities, we created four short ?lms to tell the deeper stories of eight real customers that represent our ethos of “we have more in common than we think”— ranging from a drag queen activist, to a black cowboy from Compton and more. Each video featured two people—switching back and forth between their individual stories. Although they appear to be different from one another, we find that they have shared stories that are far more compelling—whether it is their efforts to defy what’s expected of their race or the quest to find their life’s purpose. Ultimately, the content showed how McDonald’s is the brand that fuels and represents their beliefs.


Globally—but especially in America—we live during a time when there is more and more of a spotlight on how our differences divide us. McDonald’s continues to be committed to inclusion and bringing people together. The golden arches are a beacon for all. In fact, Chris Arnade, a journalist from The Guardian, traveled around the US to tell the story of the real America. He quickly found that McDonald’s was the glue that holds many communities together—he wrote in his article, “McDonald’s provide many with the chance to make real and valuable connections.”

Our strategy was to (re)build relevant, authentic connections with our audience by diving deeper to tell the story of America through a sampling of the 26 million people who walk through McDonald’s every day.


To bring in a unique perspective, we partnered with a company that has unparalleled expertise in telling relatable stories of diversity. We worked with them to select stories of McDonald’s customers that would represent America, be relatable for our audience and be timely, understanding that campaign was launching at a crucial moment when the country seemed more divided than ever.

The films premiered on linear TV in premium placement across Viacom’s networks. We created content that aligned against contextually relevant programming to debut the full 2:30 length films. For extended reach, we created shorter versions to distribute on digital/mobile and social. Additionally, we curated influencers to build wider advocacy and drive engagement around the message, prompting people to share their own “in common” stories.

We drove massive scale, delivering nearly 48MM impressions.


Most importantly, we drove impact.

The films resulted in positive perception shifts for McDonald’s.

• Viewers agreed more with the statement that McDonald’s is a brand “for someone like me” (+32% vs. non-viewers).

• Brand positive messages like “a restaurant who cares globally about making people stop thinking so much about the differences in people,” increased over 30%.

• Additionally, 62% of people felt seeing McDonald’s on Viacom’s networks was important to their decision to visit McDonald’s with 92% visiting a McDonald’s in the weeks following exposure.

Even more telling were the verbatims that showed we were making a difference: “I like that McDonald’s advertising is more modern and tries to connect people from different backgrounds.” And ’We have more in common than we think’. That is a great message to be sending out during this time of strife.”

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