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  • Writer's pictureADGEEK

A word (or two) on branding

McDonald's has pulled off a number of out-of-home advertisements in recent years where the brand didn't even need to identify itself because its products or logo were so recognizable. For instance, there were these billboards that used cropped versions of the Golden Arches to direct motorists to the nearest McDonald's.


McDonald’s branding is so iconic that it communicates just as well in very minimalist form, as the company’s extremely stripped-down advertising in France has long proven. Now, in Canada, the fast-food chain is applying the same approach to out-of-home ads—with surprisingly useful results.


Last summer, TBWA Paris unveiled a bold campaign for McDonald's that consisted entirely of classic menu items photographed up close—with no branding at all. (Did somebody say McDonald's? Not in those ads.)


In 2019, these billboards showed blurry images of famous items, forcing passersby to stop and register what they're seeing.


Earlier this year, OOH ads listed the ingredients with no images or logos.


McDonald’s menu items are so recognizable that people barely need to see them to know what they are.


How many brands could pull this off?


And that brings us to today. The brand installed OOH installations of famous items with bites taken out of them.


Meanwhile, Burger King took its best shot to troll the Golden Arches (once again). Burger King scrolled through thousands of unanswered comments on McDonald's Facebook page (some dating back years) and gave users coupons to free Whoppers. That's customer service for ya.


While no campaign is truly a "$0 campaign," given that plenty of people are hopefully getting paid for their ideas and time along the way, it's still always worth taking note of successful marketing that sidesteps paid media strategies.


Case in point: Burger King Denmark's razor-sharp trolling of McDonald's via Facebook.


To build awareness around BK's enhanced commitment to customer service, the brand waded into enemy territory and started responding to disgruntled McDonald's customers.


While Burger King has a storied track record in recent years of needling its largest rival, this time the challenger brand kept its tone polite and positioned itself as just trying to lend a "helping hand" by responding to complaints (some more than a year old) that McDonald's hadn't gotten around to yet.


I love these kinds of Viking-esque raid stunts (perfect for Denmark brands), but it's important to keep one vital aspect in mind: PR. Gleeful trolling like this only works if you let the masses know about it, which generally requires a case study with translated examples (and the foresight to plan for screenshots and other assets before McDonald's deletes the posts off its page).


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