McDonald’s on why the ‘stillness’ of its marketing strategy sets it apart


While its tactics will evolve, the fast food giant believes the consistency of its overarching marketing strategy is what grounds the brand.

McDonalds’ ‘Traffic’ by Leo Burnett

McDonald’s set itself apart from rivals by maintaining a level of “stillness” around its strategy, while adapting its tactics, says its head of marketing, Hannah Pain.

“There’s a level of calmness and stillness around strategy, which really grounds us,” she said, speaking during a session hosted by Kantar today (23 April).

“Tactics might flex or change and kind of orientate slightly differently… but from our side, the strategy stays firm and true.”

Consistency on strategy was the key theme that emerged from the session; however, deputy chief strategy officer at McDonald’s agency Leo Burnett, Tom Sussman said the brand doesn’t “rest on its laurels”.

Sussman quoted BBH founder Sir Nigel Bogle and said McDonald’s way of working was “moving it on without moving it off”. He said the team is focused on only doing things with the brand that it knows will resonate with consumers and drive growth.

It won’t surprise you that our marketing strategy is fundamentally grounded in the business strategy.

Hannah Pain, McDonald’s

“The team is highly invested in the brand. We never do things for our own satisfaction or because it’s something that we think would be fun for us,” he said.

It will, however, take risks where warranted, he noted, giving the example of the ‘Raise Your Arches’, campaign that did not feature a single burger.

While McDonald’s is a huge brand that invests a great deal in its marketing, it is also important for it to carefully make choices about what it does, Pain said.

Coca-Cola CEO: Knowing ‘what not to prioritise’ is just as important for growth

“There are so many audiences, new initiatives or innovations that could come out and distract us,” she noted.

“And actually, keeping ourselves honest to what is actually going to drive those growth levers that are in our business strategy keeps us really grounded in terms of that prioritisation.”

McDonald’s head of consumer insights, Fainareti Schortsaniti said that the brand understands the power of market orientation and consumer insights to work out how to play to its strengths.

“We are relentlessly curious about what happened in the market, what’s happening with our customers. What are the drivers of business?” she said.

McDonald’s on the insight that shifted its approach to trust

Speaking to Marketing Week at Cannes Lions last year, McDonald’s senior director for marketing transformation, Joan Colletta described how the business had made marketing its centre for growth in recent years.

“We now know without a doubt that when we invest in work that builds our brand it builds 1.5 times higher ROI in the near term as any other type of work,” Colletta said, speaking about the faith the business has in brand.

Speaking today, Pain reiterated the belief the business has in marketing to power growth.

“It won’t surprise you that our marketing strategy is fundamentally grounded in the business strategy,” she said.


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