Brand Power: Heavy Eyelids & 44 miles

Recently I had the great pleasure of working as Ronald McDonald’s assistant at a couple McDonald’s stores in Sioux Falls. He was visiting for the 50th anniversary of two different stores, so he spent 4 hours at each entertaining customers with jokes, magic tricks, and just making people smile. Aside from entertaining the kids, he is also great at entertaining the adults. He’s genuinely funny and always had me in stitches. It was such a memorable experience that I’ve been casually telling the story to some friends and family.

Last weekend my girlfriend (Jenny) and I were visiting her parents’ home in the small town of Estelline, South Dakota. It was around 10:00 pm when I was telling my tale of “Ronald Wrangling” to Jenny’s sister Lindsay and her fiancé Dwight. They were amused, but were probably more focused on the question “What the heck does Andrew do for a living again?” Once I finished telling the story, Dwight exclaimed, “Man…I want some McDonald’s!” Then Jenny says, “Yeah, I want their fries!”

After everyone finished enthusiastically discussing their favorite McDonald’s entrées (all the while Dwight repeating that he wants some McDonald’s right now), Jenny and I go upstairs to say goodbye to Alice and Brody, our two cats. When we came back downstairs Lindsay and Dwight were gone, and we were still uncertain of whether or not they were serious about driving 22 miles to the nearest McDonald’s location in the dead of night. As we were traveling back to Brookings Jenny says, “I was serious about getting McDonald’s fries.” So being the congenial guy that I am, after arriving in Brookings around 11:00 pm we head straight for McDonald’s. We pull up to the drive-thru and lo and behold, Dwight and Lindsay are in the vehicle in front of us; they were serious after all.

Now Jenny and I live in Brookings, but Dwight and Lindsay live in Estelline. So they chose to drive 22 miles to Brookings late at night, and 22 miles back to Estelline, all to satiate what they were pining for. Heavy eyelids and 44 miles were not enough to stop them from their McDonald’s craving.

Think about how strong McDonald’s brand power must be. It is a testament to the concept of branding and illustrates what it is capable of, and I find it miraculous. In this demonstration, McDonald’s managed to make a sale by the power of suggestion and that alone. And with 44 miles of inconvenience in the way, late at night, the sale tenaciously succeeded. That’s not just brand power; that is powerful branding, and we all could learn a thing or two from McDonald’s.

Don’t be surprised if you are now craving McDonald’s.

– Andrew

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