My two-year old granddaughter is mesmerized by the “Change is good!” ad currently running by McDonald’s. It caused me to stop and see what was going on. This 30-second clip has all the elements of good advertising: design, music, humour, children, a problem, a solution, consensus and a memorable jingle “I’m lovin’ it”. But more importantly, the advertising campaign is shaping a generation’s mindset.
The ad features a group of seven-year old kids enjoying a McDonald’s lunch. One of the kids breaks the news that, “McDonald’s is changing McNuggets.” Grief and concern sweeps across the room as the kids debate the need for change. One girl offers a better option, “If they’re going to change anything, change broccoli!” As the stress intensifies, all attention focuses on the opinion of one bright boy. Sampling the new McNuggets, he claims with firm resolve “Change is good!” Relief sweeps across the crowd and cheering consensus prevails “I’m lovin’ it.”
Rarely does advertising penetrate deep. Hundreds of books and thousands of articles are written on creating effective advertising and yet few ads ever make the grade. Small businesses waste millions on mediocre advertising and corporations spend billions with little more success. So what makes McDonald’s and Wal-Mart advertising so successful? They know how to penetrate deeply. And to go deep, focus and knowing your audience is everything.
The McNuggets ad is not about McNuggets, although selling more McNuggets is one of the goals. It has more to do with shaping the basic foundation of a generation’s consciousness. (If parents could as effectively change behavior in 30-second sound bites as McDonald’s – and it is possible – our culture would be organized quite differently.)
Kids respond to the ad because it’s about them. That’s good scripting. McDonald’s knows their audience, and kids are the future of McDonald’s. That’s long-term thinking. In the ad, the kids initially resist the suggestion of change – a resistance that’s bred into our culture. We like stability. Even though we’re moving through tumultuous change, we still don’t embrace it all that well. So kids just assume the parental attitude. But the boy breaks with this mindset and exclaims, “Change is good”. His proclamation speaks to his generation and the other kids rally around the belief that ‘change is good’. It’s all neatly packaged with the memorable ribbon, “I’m lovin’ it”.
The power of this 30 –second commercial is enormous. McDonald’s is shaping a generation to embrace the attitude that ‘change is good.’ The boy doesn’t say, “Changing McNuggets is good.” He simply states, “Change is good.” Imagine the impact of a generation growing up embracing change. Wouldn’t that be a change!
What a contrast to the resistance to change from a generation that grew up believing that certainty, stability and predictability were the hallmarks of society. And yet, how many times have we heard that change was imminent? That change was the order of the day. That success requires the agility to change and adapt. How much are you still resisting the changing marketplace or defending the traditional way of doing business? Do you still believe that business success means following the tried-and-true ways of orderly conduct? We resist change because our belief system suggests that ‘change is bad’.
What does McDonald’s gain by all this? Well certainly more McNuggets sales. But what about being associated with a generation that believes ‘change is good’ and you just happened to be the messenger? And, wouldn’t a corporation that has served billion of hamburgers the world over know the emotional strategy of tying their brand to their audience through a memorable jingle “I’m lovin’ it!”
Let’s sing some more:
You Deserve a Break Today (1971)
We Do it All for You (1975)
Twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettuce cheesepicklesonionsonasesameseedbun (1975)
You, You’re The One (1976)
It’s a Good Time for the Great Taste of McDonald’s (1984)
Have You Had Your Break Today? (1995)
Did Somebody Say McDonald’s? (1997)
We Love to See You Smile (2000)