This week, fast-food behemoth McDonald’s announced a new strategy to move its marketing in a more positive direction. We can’t help but wonder if this new direction might not have been prompted, at least in part, by the PTC’s repeated calls over the past several months for McDonald’s to reconsider its marketing strategy.
Last January, after McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson told investors during a conference call that they needed to “re-establish the trust of customers,” the PTC penned an open letter to Thompson, telling him that a key strategy in reestablishing that trust must be remembering the families that have been the cornerstone of the McDonald’s brand for decades, and once again pursuing a family-friendly ad strategy.
In the weeks and months that followed, the PTC kept pressure on McDonald’s, pushing back when the once-family-friendly brand’s ads appeared on programs that had offensive or gratuitous content such as Fox’s Family Guy, or VH1’s Dating Naked. PTC efforts culminated in a major social media push ahead of the McDonald’s corporate shareholder meeting last spring.
Though McDonald’s did not publicly respond, they started quietly pulling ad spots from the most problematic programs we were writing to them about.
PR Week notes that McDonald’s is trying to inject “more ‘positivity’ into its advertising and marketing,” and what better way to do that than by abandoning an ad strategy that saw McDonald’s supporting some of the most explicit sexual content and graphic violence on television?
In a video to explain the new strategy, McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer, Deborah Wahl (@dlwahl1) explains that the company is moving from a philosophy of “billions served” to “billions heard.” Time will tell, and we will continue to monitor McDonald’s sponsorship behavior, but for now it seems McDonald’s has heard you.