McDonald's emphasizes PR in new marketing strategy

OAK BROOK, IL: McDonald's sees PR as a key part of its overall marketing plans in 2004, particularly as it rolls out its successful salad offerings to countries in Europe and elsewhere.

OAK BROOK, IL: McDonald's sees PR as a key part of its overall marketing plans in 2004, particularly as it rolls out its successful salad offerings to countries in Europe and elsewhere.

"We can no longer just rely on advertising to deliver our message," said Larry Light, EVP and global chief marketing officer, during a press conference to announce some new package designs for the world's largest fast-food chain.

McDonald's has dubbed its new marketing effort "Rolling Energy." The effort was designed to focus on increasing credibility with consumers at a time when people are becoming more interested in taking an active role in their diets.

"Public relations is a very important part of our whole Rolling Energy program," Light said. "Paid advertising has its limitations. PR will get us into media that has high credibility, particularly with young adults. Our whole new brand strategy is to communicate a more youthful strategy."

Light noted that when McDonald's launched its new salads in Australia, "it was public-relations-driven," as McDonald's teamed with an organization promoting healthy living. In New Zealand, it worked with a locally well-known cyclist as an endorser.

In the US, it kicked off its salad with a New York press conference featuring Paul Newman, whose salad dressings McDonald's offers.

"I'm positive that we'll continue to use third-party endorsements where it is appropriate," Light said.

"Rolling Energy is about creating energy with our customers all across the world," explained Dean Barrett, SVP and global brand business officer. Advertising, marketing, and PR are "all key components of our Rolling Energy plan," he said.

Light added that when McDonald's unveiled new advertising in Germany last year, it garnered more than two billion impressions thanks to media relations work done before the ads appeared. "We already had ad awareness before the ads ran," he said.

McDonald's new packaging will feature average consumers' pictures on cups and bags. It is designed to build on the company's new "I'm lovin' it" ad slogan. McDonald's selected Boxer, a British design consultant, to create the new packaging. The new design will represent the first time that McDonald's uses the same packaging around the globe.

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