McDonald’s and Leo Burnett channel 90s nostalgia in latest campaign highlighting long-standing food provenance

McDonald’s latest campaign highlights the little changes they’ve made to the way they source their food over the last 20 years, by tapping into 1990s culture.

The campaign launches with a 90s Teletext inspired advert interrupting ad breaks across major networks during peak programming. The 30” spot will take over screens across the UK, and will read: “We’ve been using 100% British and Irish beef since you were booking your holidays on here.” 

In addition to the Teletext takeover, two additional 30” ‘Keep Up With The Times’ films shot by Tim Godsall, will launch across TV and VOD. In both films, nostalgia is used to highlight the changes McDonald’s has made to the way they source their food. We see an office worker using a corded landline telephone to make calls, while working from a 90s computer, complete with a floppy disk drive and a Filofax. He’s given a McDonald’s breakfast, to which he replies “McDonald’s? Talk to the hand.” His colleague, very much in the present day, replies: “Oh get with it, Tony, the eggs in McMuffins have been free-range for over 20 years.” His mind changed, he tucks in, before sending a fax and making plans for a game of squash in true 90s fashion.

In the second film, we see a group of friends sitting down for dinner. When one friend is offered a McDonald’s, she says, “Whatever.” Her friends reassure her and encourage her to get with the times: “All McDonald’s burgers have been made with 100% British and Irish beef for over 20 years.” 

Enlightened, she gladly takes a bite, before getting a message on her pager asking her to go the roller disco that evening.

In addition to the films, there’s a retro inspired media buy with old school digital banners popping up across the internet, 90s themed OOH posters on sites across the UK, with content that plays to pop-culture references from the past across radio and social. A partnership with The Times has also been organised, which consists of bringing back stories and front pages from past issues of the newspaper.

McDonald’s is also replicating its own website from the 90s to help tell their food quality journey from then until the present day. Retro trayliners and menu screen takeovers will also feature in restaurants across the UK. 

OMD designed the media strategy to supercharge the impact of the campaign, making it unmissable with a full funnel approach to emphasise McDonald’s longstanding commitment to food quality. With the rapid pace of media change, many media channels and features now hold nostalgic associations. From targeting listeners of throwback era playlists on Spotify, to retro style display banners in digital, Leo Burnett’s throwback creative will be seen and heard across nostalgic media contexts to target the relevant audiences.

The campaign builds on its existing ‘Change A Little, Change A Lot’ platform, which McDonald’s worked with Leo Burnett to launch in October 2021, which highlights the fact that when McDonald’s and its customers decide to change something together, each small act quickly adds up to a lot. This campaign was created by Leo Burnett to support McDonald’s Plan For Change, a comprehensive business and sustainability strategy to help it achieve its aim of net zero emissions across its entire UK and Ireland business by 2040.

Hannah Pain, Head of Marketing – Brand Affinity, Trust & Family, at McDonald’s UK & Ireland, said: “McDonald’s has evolved a lot of the years, but not everyone has kept up with those changes. Our research showed that some people were still holding onto opinions of the brand that they’d formed 30 odd years ago. ’Keep Up With The Times’ is a fun and impactful campaign that uses nostalgia to talk to the nation about our long-standing commitments to food quality, channelling cultural references from the 90s to illustrate how long McDonald’s has used quality sourced ingredients.”

Mark Elwood, Executive Creative Director at Leo Burnett UK, said: “McDonald’s are constantly making changes to the way they source their food. Some customers are still stuck in the past in their views of McDonald’s. This campaign aims to change that by using humour and nostalgia as the trojan horse to hopefully help them change their minds.”

Source: Leo Burnett UK

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