McDonald's: Profitably future-proofing fast-food

Agency: DDB Sydney

Advertiser:McDonald's

Author:Ryan Richards and Russ Mitchinson

Total Campaign Expenditure: $20 – 40 million

Strategic communications challenge

The term "fast food" was first recognised in a dictionary by Merriam-Webster in 1951 and the category's simple formula has proven to be a successful format ever since. McDonald's, the world's leading fast food hamburger chain, has been the most successful in rolling out this formula, serving some of fast food's favourite items for over sixty years; from beef burgers such as the Big Mac, Quarter Pounder and the Cheeseburger to their popular chicken burger the McChicken. The McDonald's business grew over the years by franchising this proven formula – opening more restaurants with a consistent menu, recipe and pricing model.

But all good things must come to an end. The year 2007 brought with it signs of a shifting landscape for the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry, showing declines in penetration and average visitation scores across the board.1 These measures were a result of Australian consumers becoming savvier and demanding better quality in all aspects of their life, including what they ate. 'Gourmet' burger joints were opening up around the country to meet this demand. Burgerlicious and Bite Me offered more premium hamburgers, served in premium buns and relishes. New chicken restaurants like Nandos offered more premium chicken burgers and wraps with exotic-flavoured piri piri sauce.2