NEW YORK McDonald's elevates its ubiquitous French fries to new heights via a multiplatform media campaign rolling out Jan. 1 aimed at bicultural young Latinos with an affinity for the popular menu item.
In "Flying Fry," McDonald's fries are airborne in TV, radio and online ads planned for 16 major and emerging Hispanic markets in the yearlong effort.
The TV spot features two male Hispanic teens who challenge each other to a series of extreme French fry eating scenarios in which they toss one another a fry, then catch it with their mouths from such unlikely places as a four-story balcony (through the magic of video, the kid on the receiving end catches it), and from one "up" escalator to one "down" escalator with a multilevel staircase about 8 to 10 feet wide in between.
"As McDonald's evolves their [marketing] effort and makes sure they are connecting with the growing acculturated segment of Hispanics, especially with the second generation, this is the vehicle they've chosen to use to connect with bicultural, bilingual young consumers," said Tommy Thompson, president of Inspire!, the Dallas-based Hispanic agency behind the creative.
The ads are designed to reach Latinos between the ages of 16 and 19, Thompson said, describing them as an elusive demo since they don't typically watch a lot of Spanish-language TV.
"Yet when they are watching English-language media they are seeing the spots but they aren't really establishing a connection because they don't find the message relevant," he added.
Still, the Latino youth market, ages 14 to 19, boasts a spending power of some $20 billion, much of which is spent on eating out at fast-food restaurants, according to a 2006 study by the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies.
Thompson said his agency's McDonald's TV spots "are speaking directly" to young Latinos and would air on youth-targeted, English-language cable channels, including Comedy Central, Fox, MTV and VH1, with multiple audio spots planned for radio and media banner ads designated for online placement as part of an interactive component.
What's most noticeable about the TV spot is that though the actors are Latinos, the messaging is largely what some would consider mainstream.
"There's still something in the content that connects with Latinos like language and music," Thompson said.
The online ads take the "Flying Fry" a leap further, featuring dual vertical banner ads that will frame the far left and far right lower portion of a Web site's home page and showcase silhouettes of young men on each side of the computer screen lobbing fries to each other across the home page and catching them with their mouths on the opposite sides of the screen. A prompt on the left hand side of the screen also invites online users to "Click here to throw the fry."
A blitz of TV, radio and online advertising will target Albuquerque, N.M.; the Texas cities of Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Laredo and San Antonio; Rochester, N.Y.; and Sacramento, Calif.
Radio spots are planned for Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas; and the North Carolina cities of Charlotte, Greensboro/Winston-Salem, Greenville/Washington and Raleigh.
Ad spending in Hispanic TV for McDonald's has reached $53 million through September of this year. In 2006, McDonald's ad spending for Hispanic TV totaled $70 million, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.