Aishwarya Ramesh

McDonald’s India returns to core ‘family’ positioning with new ads

The three new ads by DDB Mudra will be promoted equally on TV as well as digital.

McDonald’s India’s latest campaign is all about loving your family. The series of ads show the relationships between family members in three different contexts. One ad features a shared tender moment over a meal shared at home.

The second ad shows in-restaurant consumption, with family members playfully fighting over food.

The third one makes a specific reference to the McDonald’s app. A grandfather showing his son a deal that he can order with the app, hence, saving money.

The ads have been created by DDB Mudra Group. Arvind R.P., director - marketing and communication, McDonald’s India, explains that the brief to the agency was to make family meal times synonymous with McDonald’s.

“While McDonald’s has always been relevant for all age groups and occasions, post-COVID, we have seen a distinct shift in people wanting to spend time with their families. We wanted to leverage this trend and position McDonald’s as a family brand, with something to offer to every member.”

“Family is a key bedrock for the brand. This campaign aims to strengthen the bonding and the brand affinity for this target consumer, bringing alive the various occasions and moments that bring families together.”

Arvind mentions that the campaign’s media strategy is an equal mix of TV and digital - with most of the longer ad edits being digital-friendly.

McDonald’s faces competition from other QSR brands in India, like Wendy's, Burger King, Popeye's, etc. It also competes with QSR brands that sell different types of food items, such as Domino’s Pizza, Taco Bell, KFC, Subway, Cafe Coffee Day, among others.

McDonald’s first set up shop in India in 1996. Some of its early ads portray young men and women - either college students or working professionals.

The recent ads are the opposite - emphasising on the relationship that family members have with each other. And, how McDonald’s can play a role in that family time bonding - irrespective of whether the consumption is happening in-store or at-home.

Pallavi Chakravarti, creative head - West, DDB Mudra, says that McDonald’s has always been about family moments. “If I remember correctly, one of its earliest sign-off lines, post their entry into India, was ‘Food. Family. Fun.’ This campaign just shines the spotlight back on what has forever been one of its core tenets.”

Pallavi Chakravarti
Pallavi Chakravarti

McDonald’s been around in India for almost 25 years and Arvind adds that the communication objective of this campaign aims to strengthen the brand’s affinity among families.

“The campaign showcases families and family members across generations enjoying a burger meal with each other. It is this behaviour that sets us apart from all other new brands,” he says.

According to Ruchira Jain, Ruchira Jain, founder, Elevate Insights, (ex-VP Swiggy) globally, McDonald’s has always anchored its demand in fun times with family demand moments. “When compared to a KFC, McDonald’s audience has an index for families, in India too. However, in India consumption out-of-home is over indexed amongst the youth (college goers and early jobbers) for all food and beverage. So global brands like McDonald’s had to re-orient their marketing efforts,” she says.

Earlier this year, McDonald's India's Ramzan ad also had a family theme - wherein a family invites a lone diner to join them for a meal.

Talking about the consumer research and the brainstorming session that helped create this campaign, Chakravarti adds that the team became both the creators and consumers.

“We just borrowed from the decades of research that the whole team brought to the table. We’ve all cracked jokes with our families over a burger, shared stories over fries, teased each other over nuggets, drowned sorrows over ice cream – you get the drift. The visual treatment of the campaign wrote itself – because it’s how we live,” she says.

Divyapratap Mehta, founder at consulting agency Intertwined Brand Solutions (ex-national planning director at Publicis), recalls winning the pitch for McDonald’s back when he was an adman, working at Leo Burnett.

Divyapratap Mehta
Divyapratap Mehta

“Family has always been at the core of McDonald’s. That’s why it has products like the Happy Meal and, in India - the Happy Price menu for kids. The restaurant would be full during evenings and on weekends, but the company quickly realised that it couldn’t afford to be empty on weekdays.”

Mehta says that it became more important than ever for the brand to look for new revenue streams, especially in India.

“Why should a budget-friendly, filling meal be the domain of a select audience only? Families crave it just as much as college students. This is India. No matter how many incomes there are in a household, good quality, yummy food that is great value for money, will never go out of style,” says Chakravarti.

Jain calls McDonald’s one of the most inclusive brands - both in terms of its product menu (with ice creams and kids meals at one end to products like rice box for the older audiences); its advertising, brand semiotics and also its pricing strategy (INR 20 to meals at INR 150+). “I don’t see this campaign as a departure in strategy. One does notice a clear effort to promote the app and show modern family banter. The campaign also has a healthy mix of in-home and at-the store occasions as per the reality of consumer world post-Covid,” she says.

Ruchira Jain
Ruchira Jain

“In a food business, it’s important to stay functional, round the clock. McDonald’s quickly realised that the audience it was losing out on - was office-goers and young people. It noticed that young people were hanging around its outlets. So, it initially promoted the fries and coke combo to bring them in. It also introduced healthy lunch options like the chicken and paneer wraps to attract working professionals,” explains Mehta.

He adds that McDonald’s should’ve done these marketing campaigns. in addition to the ones designed to attract the youth.

He calls the film typical in many ways, as it goes back to the brand’s core proposition - one that it has always offered in different countries.

According to Mehta, it’s a family occasion when people go out with their families to eat a meal. He recalls that brands like Nirula’s used to benefit from that - it had multi-cuisine and it was easier for families to eat together, according to their individual preferences.

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