McDonald’s Love Notes

Isn’t it nice when someone leaves you a little love note just because?

Whether it’s a note from your mom in your lunchbox:
“Have a good day sweetie!” (Hopefully only when you were a kid)

Or a note from your adoring husband, left on your pillow:
“Just wanted to tell you that you’re beautiful and I’ll love you forever.”

Or a romantic note from your loving wife:

  • Take out the diaper garbage. It’s stinking up the bedroom.
  • Pick up more diapers.
  • Pick up the dead spider on the floor. I used your shoe.
  • The cat puked on your chair. Clean it up.

That was the idea behind these love notes we created for McDonald’s. They were randomly slipped in the food bags of McDonald’s customers in the drive thru. Just because.

LoveNotes

More Than A Clown

More Than A Clown Jun 29, 2012

I know a guy who could probably write a book on public relations, or at least a chapter. He’s not a bigwig in a suite or an award-clenching hot shot. You might actually know him. He’s tall, has red hair, really big feet… his name is Ronald McDonald.

McDonald’s is one of our clients. When there’s a special celebration or promotion going on at a restaurant, Ronald McDonald is sure to be there, and it’s my duty to assist him. He signs autographs, takes pictures with customers, performs magic tricks for kids, hands out stickers and jokes around with the locals. I just carry his bag of magic and make sure no one messes with him.

When I assisted Ronald for the first time, I expected your run-of-the-mill clown, the kind that makes bad puns, smells like cigars, and pretty much repels every adult and child in his path. But I was wrong.

I was surprised to see the amount of joy that Ronald brought to customers. He put a smile on just about every single person’s face, young and old, with his sense of humor and welcoming character. People are really drawn to the guy. Sometimes customers will hang around the restaurant for the entire duration of Ronald’s stay just to see his antics. I’ve seen elderly women slow-dance with him, boyish grins light up the faces of tough guys, and people hugging him as if he was their long-lost father. It’s evident that Ronald really enjoys making people happy.

With Ronald there is no hidden sales agenda or marketing scheme. Yes, he’s tied to McDonald’s, but his sole purpose is to bring customers joy, that’s it.

I can’t put my finger on what it is about him that elates people so much. But for one thing, Ronald is a genuine people-person. And people appreciate authenticity, especially when it comes to interacting with a brand. So maybe people can pick up on Ronald’s sincere desire to make them laugh, to make them feel welcome, and to make them feel appreciated. And that may be the best kind of PR any business could hope to achieve.

– Andrew

 

A Bid for the Presidency

Wander through the White House or saunter around the Smithsonian, and you probably won’t see any presidential memorabilia made out of poultry (though if Ben Franklin got his way a few centuries ago, we woud be a nation of turkeys). But travel to Dakota City, Nebraska and you’ll find a frozen history lesson.

About three years ago, Rebekah Speight took her kids to McDonald’s and as she cleaned up, a familiar face looked back at her. It wasn’t from a coin purse, but from the pile of uneaten McNuggets. The McNugget looked like George Washington. So government waste no more, Speight kept the pronounced POTUS profile and tucked it into her freezer.

Here’s where the word-of-mouth world that GW knew and our world of connectivity meet to make a creative grass roots campaign. When Speight needed to raise money for a higher purpose, to send students from her church to camp, she got the calling to auction the meaty McNugget. And the lesson from history and marketing is that at times the best viral campaigns mean brushing off the freezer burn and taking a bite of creativity bigger than George Washington’s wooden dentures could take (yes history teachers, and my mom, I know that’s not quite true). It’s stepping outside the usual to create chatter about the unusual. It’s using the tools and toys we employ every day – Facebook, Ebay or Twitter – to drive awareness of those causes that matter the most to us.

For Speight, her bid for the presidency on eBay got media coverage from around the world, creativity that cost conversation and getting bids past $8,000. While Commander in Chiefs may communicate about taxes or partisan politics, when a message makes its way through all the other talk of the day, we must ask why it matters so much. For Speight, the head of state (even in a state of breaded tastiness) gave her a way to help the cause and kids she cared most about it.

– Jolene

Update: The winning bidder chickened out on the sale, but organizers say they will still work to find someone interested in bidding on this presidential piece of poultry.

Golden Opportunities

To some, it’s just a job. But for Kendall Titiml, the man with the golden voice, it’s a golden opportunity.

Walk into the McDonald’s in Wayne, America (that’s in Nebraska, but look at the water tower and you’ll understand the nomenclature) and you may be greeted by a smile wider and brighter than the arches outside. That “I’m Lovin’ It” personality belongs to Kendall, 22, a marketing student at Wayne State College. Kendall entered the Voice of McDonald’s IV, a contest to recognize McDonald’s employees for their singing talents. As he made it through the public voting to be one of the U.S. finalists, news organizations in Nebraska, Iowa and Palau (Kendall’s home and an island nation 500 miles east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles south of Tokyo with a population several thousand less than Aberdeen, SD) covered his journey.

But a lesson in PR (and life): don’t assume you know the whole story.

As we worked to share Kendall’s story (and help him get votes), we got a chance to interview him. He chatted about his philosophy in life, love of music and excitement that he would use his winnings to send his mom to his sister’s graduation and he may even make the trip home as well.

But then he mentioned something else.

At five-years-old, he became ill with Guillain-Barre syndrome and needed to be taken to a larger hospital hours away in Hawaii. While there, his family stayed at a Ronald McDonald House. Kendall told us how grateful he became back then for the chance to recover and he believed McDonald’s gave him two opportunities in his life.

While we thought we just wanted to share the story of a hard-working college kid with a great voice and passion to perform who loved to inspire people with his positive personality, we found another story. A young man grateful to share his talent and endlessly appreciative of people he never would know who gave his family a place to call home while he recovered.

Next up, Kendall heads to Orlando in April where he competes for international bragging rights singing with 16 competitors from around the globe, all hoping for their golden opportunity.

– Jolene Loetscher

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