At the same time, Needham was able to pick up a dinner assignment from Burnett and will retain most of its promotional work. The whole exchange is more or less a financial wash.
But emotionally it may be a different matter. One McDonald's source said it is a firm indicator that the chain is 'extremely happy with the work coming out of Burnett right now, and this is somewhat of a reward.' Insiders say the move was strictly 'based on creative.' Said one source, 'Burnett has been winning more and more of the shoot-outs between the two agencies.'
Sources say Needham has been working on a major dinnertime campaign, and will continue to work on a number of promotional projects as they come up.
McDonald's has claimed that it continually moves projects back and forth between the two agencies, while keeping the compensation the same. That action differs from what McDonald's intended to do when it awarded Needham the tweens business in December of 1990. At that time, McDonald's said that the two agencies would work on distinct pieces of business that would not compete. Since then, McDonald's has often 'thrown up project jump balls' between the two agencies in an effort to get the best work.
A McDonald's spokesperson wouldn't comment on any shifts last week and would only say that its agency relationships were 'healthy and intact.' Officials from both of McDonald's also wouldn't comment on the business and referred calls to the client.
Burnett resolved to get the business back, according to insiders. There have been signs that the agency was beginning to win back the favor of McDonald's marketing executives. An early sign was picking a new Burnett-produced tagline, 'What you want is what you get,' last year, and most recently the agency scored a hit with the Larry Bird-Michael Jordan spot during this year's Super Bowl.
Furthermore, the tweens area has been an awkward age group for McDonald's.
While the fast-food chain has little problem talking to young kids and adults, it hasn't hit the mark with pre-teens. Meanwhile, Burger King has made inroads in that segment. And by adding an MTV look to its recent ads, BK seems more in touch with the segment than McDonald's.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)