NEW YORK: A new US ad for QSR giant McDonald's mentions two brands, Coca-Cola and Google, while avoiding the brand bankrolling the spot – referring to it only as "that place where Coke tastes so good".

The ads, which aired for the first time last week, are a reaction to the way millennials watch TV with their phones in their hands, the New York Times reported.

The videos, featuring actor and comedian Mindy Kaling wearing a yellow dress in front of a red background – McDonald's brand colours – urge viewers to search for "that place where Coke tastes so good."

It is not the first time that the brand has attempted unbranded ads. In 2013, TBWA\Paris launched a print and outdoor campaign across France that featured close up photos of the food only.

Deborah Wahl, outgoing McDonald's CMO in the US, told the Times that the ads acknowledge how young people discover information. "They are very influenced by word of mouth and what their peers say."

According to Wahl, the search giant was not involved in the campaign's development. "Google didn't give us any tricks on search or anything." To have done so, she said, would have gone against the grain of the entire campaign.

"What they're helping us do is understand if people are really searching as a result of this, and offering close feedback and collaboration in terms of what's happening with this with real behavior."

The effort follows a now infamous ad from rival QSR, Burger King, which prompted Google Home devices within listening range of a TV to reel off the ingredients in its product. However, having relied on a Wikipedia entry, which are written and edited by users, Burger King experienced a number of unsavoury revisions to that page last week.

Wahl said the brand was prepared for people to try to interfere with the results, an issue faced by many ad campaigns that leverage social media.

As to why Coke might taste different at McDonald's, possible reasons include the syrup being delivered in stainless steel tanks rather than plastic bags, both the water and syrup being pre-chilled before dispense, and the presence of a slightly wider straw.

Data sourced from New York Times; Campaign; additional content by WARC staff