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Case study: 'We all make the games' (McDonald's/Leo Burnett)

Case study: 'We all make the games' (McDonald's/Leo Burnett) Josh Bullmore

A year on, and the memories of the London Olympics for a lot of us continue to be real and everlasting. The Queen and James Bond parachuting into the Olympic stadium, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray and Ellie Simmonds—all made for some stand-out moments.

But what the Olympics 2012 memorably created was also a golden summer of advertising, with social playing a bigger role than ever before in escalating its reach and excitement. For several brands, it appeared that social media activation plans were merely an amplifier for big budget ad campaigns. However, McDonald’s London 2012 campaign was designed to be both centred in social, and fully integrated across channels.

McDonald’s had faced a backlash around its sponsorship, and was accused of having a monopoly over chips at the Olympic Park. Leo Burnett’s challenge was to reassert McDonald’s as a feel-good brand that was an appropriate sponsor for the biggest sporting event in London’s history – arguably the brand’s toughest affinity challenge to date. 

The solution? Take a holistic approach to engage consumers, and create a campaign that is about an idea and the power of that idea. It was also about finding shared territory with The Games.
So we recognised the two fundamental truths about the brand and The Games:

• McDonald’s positioning is ‘The People’s Restaurant’, a place that is democratic and populist. From Olympic athletes to the man on the street, ‘There’s a McDonald’s for everyone.

• The Games were about more than sport. For the first time people would be capturing and sharing The Games, as they happened. Not just watching it on TV or in a stadium, but actively participating in creating the narrative of The Games.

Shared values

So to make people feel good about the sponsorship, we decided to highlight the things that people love about McDonald’s - inclusivity, democracy, generosity of spirit - and show how these values were shared with London 2012. It was a rallying cry celebrating how the public, Games Makers and McDonald’s crew made London 2012 the greatest show on earth. It was a unifying story that wrapped a range of McDonald’s Olympic contributions into a coherent theme. It was refreshingly different.This philosophy manifests in the ‘We All Make the Games’ campaign, created by Leo Burnett London. So how did we bring this integrated campaign to life?

1. We broadcast that we are celebrating the people behind The Games with our launch TV campaign. The campaign launched two weeks before the opening ceremony to capitalise on the anticipation. The TV ad and a huge 48 sheet outdoor campaign introduced the idea of ‘Olympic fan types’ -- Games Makers, Champion Crew and fans experiencing the rollercoaster emotional ride of The Games. It then invited people to Facebook, asking “What kind of fan are you?"

2. The call to get involved was echoed across multiple media, with placements next to relevant Games content. On Facebook, people used the Fanalyser app to share pictures of their Olympic experiences. 20,000 people from 39 different countries did so – a 60% conversion rate. Meanwhile, our film crews were capturing Games ‘moments’ as they happened. To make sure fans did not miss a thing, they were told via Facebook when and where they would be appearing on the digital outdoor, with video clips showing their moment of fame.

3. This film content fuelled 4 new TV executions over the Olympics and Paralympics, made up of live moments of real people experiencing The Games. For example, as Bradley Wiggins won his gold medal, we introduced ‘The Fake Hair on Cheekers’. And soon after Usain Bolt won the 100m, we showcased ‘The 9.63ers.’

4. Responsive TV was only the start. The pictures submitted through Facebook, and the footage from the film crews, became digital outdoor. Outdoor delivered both impact and frequency. It was the largest ever live poster campaign to date, involving 250 unique digital posters and over 300 pieces of digital display across 1820 sites. Importantly, we used a large media spend innovatively, to service the people’s narrative, not simply to broadcast brand messaging. For instance, un-missable dominations of London transport hubs ensured almost everyone arriving for the Games would see us celebrating the fans. All Special builds included digital screens, with 3G Wi-Fi technology to enable live updates.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country saw thousands of 48 sheets, using premium backlit formats to maximise impact. The campaign culminated in a TV campaign made entirely of footage captured during The Games, broadcast in the break after the Paralympics closing ceremony - celebrating that “We All Made the Games”.

The Results?

There was a clear reduction in negative buzz immediately after the first burst of media, and the campaign achieved 77% standout compared to other Olympic advertising.

August 2012 saw McDonald’s UK’s biggest ever sales. August sales showed an incremental growth of +1% beyond projections, while restaurants close to Olympic venues (where Outdoor media was concentrated) saw a 12% uplift, and 67 restaurants (mainly in London) set a new monthly sales record in either July or August last year.

The McDonald’s campaign around the London Olympics celebrated the collective story of The Games: a story that the brand invited, curated and then broadcast.

Josh Bullmore and Steve Hill will provide the full story on 'We All Make The Games' in ad:tech London's Multichannel Summit on 12 September. Click here for further information and to reserve your place.

Josh is Head of Planning at Leo Burnett. Since joining Leo Burnett in 2009, Josh has worked with government and commercial clients including the Department for Transport’s Think! campaign (his IPA paper reviewing 30 years of Drink Drive...

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