We’d like to congratulate Flatley and the McDonald’s team for the company’s ongoing financial success. U.S. comparable store sales increased almost 14% last year. That’s the highest year-over-year gain on record.
Additionally, digital sales surpassed $18 billion in 2021.
That kind of success is due in no small part to the company’s history of outstanding marketing. For the past five years, marketing has been managed by Morgan Flatley.
She joined McDonald’s as Chief Marketing and Digital Communications Officer in 2017. That’s when she put the emphasis on consumer data and digital insights.
Flatley also launched some new innovations. Have you ever heard of the fresh beef quarter pounder, the new Crispy Chicken Sandwich, or MyMcDonald’s Rewards?
Those were hers.
Additionally, Flatley also strengthened partnerships with suppliers, agencies, and franchisees.
In 2021, McDonald’s named her Global Chief Marketing Officer. That’s the position she holds today.
Flatley is now responsible for menu strategy, global branding, family marketing, and media partnerships.
She also develops marketing programs that build the McDonald’s brand in more than 100 markets around the world.
One of Flatley’s more notable marketing campaigns for McDonald’s focused on what she calls “fan truths.”
The idea behind that strategy involved telling people that McDonald’s isn’t just some massive corporation. It’s also a family of more than 14,000 franchisees.
“So how do we talk more about the human work we’re doing in our communities—and the global corporate brand work we’re doing around the planet—all with a similar voice?” Flatley asked.
The answer came in the form of fan truths.
“It’s about how we have millions and millions of fans of McDonald’s,” she said. “How do we talk about what they love about McDonald’s in a way they would talk about it? So you’re actually listening to a conversation between two people who just crave our fries. Or two people who are out late and can’t wait to grab a Big Mac. That pivot has helped unlock so much of the creative we’re launching.”
One ad spot featured a potato farmer talking about how McDonald’s uses local sourcing. Another highlights the Ronald McDonald House assisting sick kids. Yet another focuses on the company’s “Thank You Meals” program.
The whole idea, if it’s not obvious, is to convince rank-and-file Americans that there’s a human side to McDonald’s.
And, truth be told, that kind of marketing might give the warm-and-fuzzies to some older Americans. But what about the younger generation?
Flatley had an idea for them, too.
Countless Americans have a “go to” order when they visit McDonald’s. It might be the Quarter Pounder value meal or the McFlurry or the Big Mac by itself.
Flatley decided to capitalize on that in a marketing campaign called Famous Orders.
The basic idea: famous people talk about their favorite orders at McDonald’s.
It all started with a Super Bowl ad: “No matter how big or famous you are, everyone has a McDonald’s order.”
That ad featured well-known people like Kanye West, Patrick Mahomes, Kim Kardashian and others talking about their favorite orders.
And it resonated with the youngsters.
But Flatley took that strategy a step further. She enabled fans to order their favorite celebrity’s McDonald’s meal.
That led to a promotion involving Travis Scott. The ad spot showed him eating McDonald’s on the wing of his Bugatti.
The creativity didn’t end there, though. The promo also included Scott’s own action figure.
The Famous Orders program continued with J Balvin. He promoted McDonald’s to his fan base as well.
McDonald’s also created limited-edition keepsakes: Travis Scott action figures and jewelry designed by J Balvin.
But did the marketing program work? You be the judge.
As a result of Flatley’s efforts, millennial YouTubers and TikTokers posted videos of themselves visiting McDonald’s drive-thrus while blasting Sicko Mode or saying “Cactus Jack sent me.”
That type of fan engagement went on for about a month.
Additionally, people posted fan art, created memes, and made in-store appearances.
Basically, McDonald’s broke the Internet.
And some folks went so far as to even steal branded posters from drive-thru windows.
The campaign included 2,000 ad placements with more than 190 million reached and a 97% favorable tone.
Yeah. I’d call that a success.
Wrapping It Up
What to learn from Morgan Flatley? Create fans.
Fans are more than just customers. And they’re more than just loyal customers.
They’re brand evangelists.
And they’ll help you take your business to the next level.