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YouTube didn't work for McDonald's

News, 07 October 2016

LONDON: McDonald's, the quick service restaurant, closed down a youth-focused channel on YouTube earlier this year because it wasn't generating enough interest, but marketers at the company say they have learned from the experience.

Like many other leading brands, McDonald's particularly wanted to engage 16- to 24-year-olds and it launched Channel Us in September 2015 in a move that it described at the time as "a ground-breaking moment for McDonald's in the UK".

British vloggers Gabriella Lindley and Oli White were signed up to host the show and the channel posted a series of "how to" videos for a year.

But with none of the nine films posted in 2016 managing to hit 1,000 views, McDonald's closed the channel down to move on to other campaigns.

Reflecting on the experience, Ben Fox, Head of Media and Customer Engagement at McDonald's, told The Drum that creating content that engages people is a challenge, but the company is still exploring what content works and what doesn't.

"We have learnt that content is really difficult and content with purpose is really important," he said. "Like a lot of brands, it is a challenge for us and we are looking at a lot of different ways we can pull people towards our brand to build affinity with other audiences."

He described making content that people want to see as an "inherent challenge", adding: "We have learnt a lot about what works and what doesn't and we will be applying that to all of our content moving forward. It is very difficult to name brands that have been successful in that space but it doesn't mean we aren't going to keep trying and see what works for us and what doesn't."

One other way McDonald's is looking to engage its customers is by offering click and collect at its restaurants, although Fox did not reveal specific details about the plan.

"As we look to the future and things like click and collect, that's where there is a clear opportunity to understand more about our customers and give them a better experience on the back of it," he said. "It is an area that we are interested in and one that we are looking at very closely at the minute."

McDonald's may have shelved its YouTube campaign for now, but Campaign recently reported that some other top brands have achieved success with the platform.

Pepsi Max, for example, has gained 120,000 subscribers to its YouTube channel despite posting only 67 videos over three years, while Red Bull's channel includes videos that Campaign described as "consistently on-brand for the energy drink".

Data sourced from The Drum, Guardian, Campaign; additional content by Warc staff