McDonald's advertising

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Traded as
Industry Restaurants
Genre Fast food restaurant
Founded McDonald's: May 15, 1940; 76 years ago (1940-05-15)
San Bernardino, California
McDonald's Corporation: April 15, 1955; 61 years ago (1955-04-15)
Des Plaines, Illinois
Founders McDonald's: Richard and Maurice McDonald
McDonald's Corporation: Ray Kroc
Headquarters Oak Brook, Illinois, U.S. (moving to Chicago in 2018)[1]
Number of locations
36,615[2] (September 30, 2016)
Area served
Key people
  • Decrease US$ 25.413 billion (2015)[3]
  • Decrease US$ 7.146 billion (2015)[3]
  • Decrease US$ 4.529 billion (2015)[3]
Total assets
  • Increase US$ 37.939 billion (2015)[3]
Total equity
  • Decrease US$ 7.088 billion (2015)[3]
Number of employees
420,000 (2015)[3]

McDonald's maintains extensive advertising campaign. In addition to the usual media including television, radio, and newspaper ads, the company makes significant use of billboards and signage, sponsors sporting events ranging from Little League to the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games, and makes coolers of orange drink with their logo available for local events of all kinds.[4] However, television ads remain the primary form of advertisement.

McDonald's has used 23 different slogans to advertise in the United States, as well as a few other slogans for select countries and regions.[5] At times, it has run into trouble with its campaigns.


There have been many McDonald's advertising campaigns and slogans over the years. The company is one of the most prevalent fast food advertisers, especially in the United States, where it spends the most advertising money of any fast-food restaurant and the fourth-most of any advertiser in the country.[6] McDonald's Canada's corporate website states that the commercial campaigns have always focused on the "overall McDonald's experience", rather than just product.[7] The purpose of the image has always been "portraying warmth and a real slice of everyday life."[7] Its TV ads, showing various people engaging in popular activities, usually reflect the season and time period. Finally, rarely in their advertising history have they used negative or comparison ads pertaining to any of their competitors; the ads have always focused on McDonald's alone, one exception being a 2009 billboard advertising the new McCafe espresso. The billboard read "four bucks is dumb", a shot at competitor Starbucks.[8]


McDonald's began operations in India in 1996. It retained Leo Burnett (India) to provide authentic Indian insights in years of study and planning to meet local conditions with special concern regarding local favorite items, religious-based food taboos and India's strong vegetarian tradition. Its hamburgers are made of lamb or chicken, not beef. It adapted local favorites into items such as McAloo Tikki, a breaded potato pancake on a bun. It divided its kitchens in the vegetarian and nonvegetarian zones making sure that food did not cross the line. Its advertising told Indians that its bright, inviting restaurants did not mean high prices. Its strategy was profits through high volume and low prices. Locally it sponsored sports programs and donations to visible charities.[9]


In 1996, the British adult comic magazine Viz accused McDonald's of plagiarizing the name and format of its longstanding Top Tips feature, in which readers offer sarcastic tips. McDonald's had created an advertising campaign of the same name, which suggested the Top Tips (and then the alternative—save money by going to McDonald's). Some of the similarities were almost word-for-word:

Save a fortune on laundry bills. Give your dirty shirts to Oxfam. They will wash and iron them, and then you can buy them back for 50p.

—Viz Top Tip, published May 1989.

Save a fortune on laundry bills. Give your dirty shirts to a second-hand shop. They will wash and iron them, and then you can buy them back for 50p.

—McDonald's advert, 1996.

The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum, which was donated to the charity Comic Relief. However, many Viz readers believed that the comic had given permission for their use, leading to Top Tips submissions such as: "Geordie magazine editors. Continue paying your mortgage and buying expensive train sets ... by simply licensing the Top Tips concept to a multinational burger corporation."

In 2003, a ruling by the UK Advertising Standards Authority determined that the corporation had acted in breach of the codes of practice in describing how its French fries were prepared.[10] A McDonald's print ad stated that "after selecting certain potatoes" "we peel them, slice them, fry them and that's it". It showed a picture of a potato in a McDonald's fries box. In fact the product was sliced, pre-fried, sometimes had dextrose added, was then frozen, shipped, and re-fried and then had salt added.

Racial Diversity[edit]

In the 1970s, McDonald's began to diversify their target audience towards the back end of the civil rights movement at the time. To modern audiences, the advertising style in this given campaign appears stereotypical and is a clear example of tokenism. However, at the time it was seen as a huge step forward in terms of overcoming racial issues.

In order to appeal to African-American people, McDonald's exclusively used images of African-American people enjoying a McDonald's meal in their ads. They also adopted linguistic features which were "typical" in that particular culture, such as "g-dropping" for example "Makin' it" or "Dinnertimin'".[11] Additionally, McDonald's also introduced the "Get Down" campaign which was a popular dance move in the African American culture at the time.

As McDonald's was mainly a "white-dominated" agency at the time, it seemed that even though they were attempted to make good with these ad campaigns, they only really achieved appearing "racially naive" and also heavily relied on fraught stereotypes rather than actual information. (Charlton McIlwain 2015) [11] Another notion, coined by Tom Burrell (2003:240),[12] was "positive realism" which "depicted African-Americans using consumer products in a manner that was authentic and relevant." This term is thought to have influenced and encouraged the depiction of African-Americans in advertising.

Current campaign[edit]

i'm lovin' it is a branding campaign by McDonald's Corporation. It was created by Heye & Partner, McDonald's agency based in Unterhaching, Germany, near Munich, and a member of the DDB Worldwide Communications Group, Inc. It was the company's first global advertising campaign and was launched in Munich, Germany on September 2, 2003, under the German title ich liebe es. This is only used in Germany; in Austria, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, the English slogan is used. The English part of the campaign was launched in Australia on September 21, 2003, the UK on September 17, 2003, and in the USA on September 29, 2003 with the music of Tom Batoy and Franco Tortora (Mona Davis Music) and vocals by Justin Timberlake, in which the slogan appears. The motion logo at the time (featuring the "M" zooming out and shining and the "i'm lovin' it" (in different languages, usually in English) zooming to the "M", leaving a trail) was produced by using Adobe After Effects and Adobe InDesign. Also, by September 3, 2003, McDonald's selected more than 30 people to appear in new packaging for McDonald's products, starting with a photoshoot taking place from September 3, 2003 until November 2003. They unveiled new "i'm lovin' it"–themed packaging on December 8, 2003 and rolled it out worldwide throughout 2004 with the final delivery date being November 20, 2004. In January 2007, after a public casting call which received 15,000 submissions, McDonald's selected 24 people to appear as part of the campaign.[13] Images of those chosen, taken from September to December 2006, who had submitted a story and digital photograph which "captured ... themes of inspiration, passion and fun," appeared on McDonald's paper bags and cups worldwide.

In early 2008, McDonald's underwent the first phase of their new image and slogan: 'What we're made of.' This was to promote how McDonald's products are made. Packaging was tweaked a little to feature this new slogan. In November 2008, McDonald's introduced new packaging, eliminating the previous design stated above (except for the Philippines and a few countries, where the previous design is used in tandem with newer packaging and in Fiji, where the previous design is still current) with new, inspirational messages, the "i'm lovin it" slogan (appearing only once on most packages). McDonald's also updated their menu boards with darker, yet warmer colors, more realistic photos of the products featured on plates and the drinks in glasses. From 2009 to 2010, McDonald's introduced new packaging worldwide. However as of 2017, McDonald's continues to have the "i'm lovin it" slogan appear on most all of its product packaging; and has made no major announcement that the company will use any other slogan exclusively in place of this one any time in the near future.

Promotional partners[edit]

Cross promotions[edit]

Celebrity spokespeople[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d e f "United States Securities and Exchange Commission : Form 10-K : McDonald's Corporation" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-06-16. 
  4. ^ Gael Fashingbauer Cooper (September 9, 2011). "McDonald's orange drink". Gen X-Tinct. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "McDonald's slogans used around the world, past and present". Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Meet America's 25 biggest advertisers. AdAge. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Marketing". McDonald's Canada. Archived from the original on December 22, 2005. 
  8. ^ "Pample Moose Garcinia Cambogia". 
  9. ^ William M. O'Barr, "Advertising in India." Advertising & Society Review 9#3 (2008): 1-33.
  10. ^ End of story for one fast food ad
  11. ^ a b Cruz, Lenika. "'Dinnertimin' and 'No Tipping': How Advertisers Targeted Black Consumers in the 1970s". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-02-06. 
  12. ^ MacDonough, J., Egolf, K., & Reid, J. (2003). The Advertising age encyclopedia of advertising (1st ed.). New York, N.Y., [etc.]: Fitzroy Dearborn.
  13. ^ "McDonald's press release". 
  14. ^ "McDonald's renews as FIFA World Cup Sponsor until 2014". Retrieved October 24, 2014
  15. ^ (November 30, 2012). "McDonald's named official sponsor of the NFL". Retrieved 30 December 2012. 
  16. ^ [1] Archived October 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.

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