DDB Heating Up on McDonald’s

Fast-Food Chain Wants New Ads for April Operators Convention
CHICAGO–The creative department at DDB has gone into overdrive to come up with a fresh campaign for McDonald’s, which wants new TV spots in time for its operators meeting in April, sources said.
McDonald’s has been in search of an updated marketing message for several months, although it remains possible that DDB’s new ads could maintain or “evolve” the almost 3-year-old “Did somebody say McDonald’s?” tagline, sources said. Other lines are being pitched within the agency, but it’s not yet clear what will be put before the client.
DDB is set to present ideas to the Oak Brook, Ill.-based company in early February, sources said. McDonald’s and DDB representatives either could not be reached or declined comment.
In discussions late last year, McDonald’s executives agreed with the agency that its advertising should maintain an emotional approach, which was the basis for DDB’s winning presentation for the account in July 1997. Some factions wanted the company to take a more competitive approach.
The fact that McDonald’s would like to have fresh TV ready for the operators meeting has given DDB a sense of urgency, although there’s no sense it is a do-or-die effort, insiders said.
Executive creative director Mike Sheehan is leading about a dozen creative teams on McDonald’s. Sheehan replaced John Staffen in the top job on the account in August after resigning from Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston three months earlier.
There’s also direct oversight of the work from DDB vice chairman and chief creative officer Bob Scarpelli, as well as from chairman and chief executive officer Keith Reinhard, whose passion for the McDonald’s account is well-documented.
Work is expected to fit with McDonald’s new “Made for you” kitchen system and could focus on its employees.
The chain last year formed a global brand strategy task force led by vice president brand strategy John Cywinski. The task force is working with franchisees to deliver on a service-oriented “We’re out to make you smile” message.