Cannes-Winning McD’s Spot Only Ran in Obscure Australian Paper

By Patrick Coffee 


We’re all aware that certain campaigns exist to move product and, more prominently, to earn attention for the responsible agencies during awards season.

A recent debate over a Cannes winner produced by DDB seems to further prove the point: as Australian media pub mUmBRELLA noted, the McDonald’s print campaign that went on to win a bronze Press Lion appeared on April 30–the very last day for consideration–in a local paper with a circulation of about 20,000.

DDB insisted that the spots, all of which appeared in the same issue of the paper, were part of the pitch that produced the TV ad after the jump.

The pub’s editors, however, didn’t seem so sure.

The issue here is that DDB seems to have gone to certain lengths to ensure that its campaign would be a legitimate contender for Cannes even though it was not widely circulated–or seen, for that matter. Writer Miranda Ward summarizes:

“Scam ads are a constant issue in international awards shows, and seen as ads that are created or published for the purpose of winning advertising awards rather than to solve a business problem. Scam ads either do not run in media at all or are placed cheaply in a minor publication to reach minimum entry requirements.

The rate-card cost of a full colour half-page ad in the Rouse Hill Times is $949.21 including GST.”

DDB did respond in a statement after mUmBRELLA published an “open letter” that also called out Saatchi & Saatchi for a Panasonic campaign, writing:

“The Big Mac brief was briefed into DDB by McDonald’s in April 2013. ‘Big Mac Legends’ was part of the creative response that went through independent market research mid-2013 and tested well.  It formed part of the integrated Big Mac campaign, highlighting the iconic nature of the ingredients and it ran as print, radio and outdoor executions, whilst ‘Big Mac Chant’ was our execution in TV and digital. The media for this campaign was approved and paid for by McDonald’s and bought by the media agency. As McDonald’s has already stated, specifics of media schedules are never shared.”

Frankly, we don’t see what all the fuss is about as the campaign was clever and did, indeed, appear in a media outlet within the relevant time window (if barely).

But we have little doubt that agency folks can tell us in greater detail why this is such an Inside Baseball outrage.