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Fast food joint McDonald's asks consumers to slow down

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | October 19, 2011
The new McDonald's McFlurry Oreo TVC created by Leo Burnett requests consumers to go slow in life, and enjoy every spoon of the ice-cream.

If you were posed a question on when was the last time you unwound and relaxed in your hectic life, what would your mind try and rush back to? The most probable answers would be a lazy Sunday afternoon, a weekend getaway, a friends' get-together, or even a drink with an old friend. But, the new McDonald's McFlurry Oreo campaign asks you to slow down with an ice-cream.

Fast food retailer McDonald's recently launched its dessert McFlurry, in India. The company has launched a 'Slow down' campaign and is encouraging its customers to make a pledge to relax and enjoy the small pleasures of life.

When was the last time you relaxed?

The copy of the TV commercial confronts viewers with questions such as when was the last time one missed a call, skipped a business lunch, felt happy with what one had, and lost track of time. It metaphorically reaches its climax after enquiring, 'When was the last time you were you?'

"Life is tough and stressful," says Rameet Arora, senior director, marketing, McDonald's India. He alludes to the fact that fast food has become a natural ally of the quick population. "But, certain type of food, like an ice-cream, cannot be eaten in a rush. You need to enjoy it slowly," he adds.

Vikram Pandey, the creative director on this campaign, shares an interesting insight, in line with Arora's beliefs on eating an ice-cream. He says that his planning and research team took a team of about 20 people to Phoenix Mills at Lower Parel, Mumbai, in the middle of a working day to check the way in which various members of the group consume ice-cream.

"What they found was rather interesting, which gave root to the slow-down concept. Some members of this group were worried about work getting delayed; some others had deadlines to meet. But, as they started eating their ice-creams, they completely forgot about the time, worries and deadlines, and enjoyed the process of eating their ice-creams," says Pandey.

He mentions that nobody hurriedly gulps down an ice-cream. "Some nibble on the ice-cream, some eat it only in small portions, some lick it from the side, but over and above, the process of consuming it is rather relaxed," says Pandey.

Supporting the TVC

A large scale outdoor activity and in-store innovation is part of the McFlurry campaign.

McDonald's is also undertaking various activities such as 'Slow down Zones' and 'Pass a slow down' postcard to promote the idea among its customers. "There is a postcard that you get with every McFlurry at a McDonald's outlet, which you can pass on to anyone who is stressed or worked up," says Pandey. He also mentions about a forthcoming activity on radio, where a listener can call up the RJ (radio jockey) and request for a call to a friend/acquaintance asking the person to slow down.

For the launch of McFlurry, McDonald's has also introduced the concept of 'Augmented Reality', in the North and East only. This is a marketing initiative done in stores to encourage customer participation and involvement with the brand.

As per this initiative, those who enter McDonald's stores are able to download an app on their Android or iPhones. On pointing their phones at the McFlurry standees in store, they can see a larger than life, animated virtual McFlurry cup popping out of the real poster, on the phone screen. There are also plans for action on the social media front, especially Facebook, on passing the slow down message.

Four radio spots are also running on various radio channels.

Leisure and pleasure?

The TVC has received mixed responses from the advertising fraternity.

Charles Victor, national creative director, Law & Kenneth, questions. "When was the last time you saw something this predictable? When was the last time you had montages that could fit a variety of propositions, brands and product categories?" he asks. He feels that the TVC was a disappointing attempt at something that could have been wonderful.

"It seemed like the first thing you'd jump at when you first heard 'slow down'," says Victor. He feels that rather than setting it aside and exploring the concept a little further, the team went ahead and produced this.

"I was hoping the song would try and make up in some way, even though it sounded like a bad remake of a Louis Armstrong or Elvis Presley song. But it didn't, unfortunately. In the end, it wasn't shot right, lacked emotion, didn't make me want to see it again, or even remember what it was for (was it for a 4x4, or a pension plan?). Sorry, I'm trying to find something I liked about it, but I didn't like the pack shot either," says Victor.

Santosh Padhi, chief creative officer and co-founder, Taproot India, on the other hand, feels that it is a well-made TVC. "The quality of the production is good -- so is the music. The film has captured the slow down thought well. By virtue of the tone of the TVC, McFlurry comes across as a premium product, which I think will work well, at least with this particular product," he adds.

Although he feels that the slow down concept is not a fresh proposition, it goes well with the product promise. In fact, Padhi was on the McDonald's projects in the past when he was with Leo Burnett.

He wishes that "I'm lovin' it", which is the slogan for the entire McDonald's brand, should have also had the slow down effect to it. "It has become a property of a brand over the years, and also gets delivered along with the overall tone of the TVC," he concludes.

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