Now why on earth would a burger chain ask you to switch the wi fi connection off and spend #kuchpaloffline?
The McDonald’s campaign is something rare in the ad world today. It is actually a piece of creativity, rather than being the brief in disguise. The answer to the question posed above is not obvious or apparent, because it has not been stated in so many words in the ad. Marketers keen to decode the purpose of a burger company asking customers to go offline must spend some time and do some thinking to arrive at the answer. Thank god. There are way too many ads today, which are simply the brief or the research findings in disguise. This one is at least, genuinely, a creative ad.
But, to get back to the moot question – how does it benefit the sale of burgers or the branding of McDonald’s India to ask its consumers to go off line?
The answer is probably hidden – as it often is – in history. In McDonald’s past campaigns, and in fact, in its entire positioning in India. Unlike the drive through phenomenon that it is in the west, McDonald’s here is called a ‘family restaurant’.
The offline campaign advertises sharing packs. Value meals to be shared with family and with friends. If all your social connections are going to be virtual, you won’t need a burger, just a burger emoticon. The longer someone spends on social media, they less they feel the need to socialise. The one thing that gets hit immediately is the accompaniments to socialising – food and drinks. Restaurants counter this aggressively in two ways – either by allowing the virtual experience to continue by saying ‘free wifi’ or more intelligently, by very clearly saying ‘no wifi, talk to each other’ (an increasingly common sign outside pubs and bars in the west).
Yes, the more you talk, the more you order. The more isolated you are, the quicker you go away, until eventually you don’t come at all because the virtual world has stepped in to to substitute your social life entirely. A very bad situation for your humble French fry.
Naturally then, McDonald’s will ask you to go offline, arrive in hordes, stay longer, eat more burgers.
But that apart, I think there is another aspect to McDonald’s offline campaign in India. Here, the brand has actively and consciously wooed young kids, who have then dragged their sceptical parents to try this suspect but glamorous all American brand, after being duly convinced that no beef is being served.
The kids have been at the fulcrum of the brand’s success for the past seventeen odd years.
Those kids are now teenagers and young adults.
Did nobody else notice this amazing shift from conventional marketing mantras? Instead of sticking with its core TG (children & through pester power, their parents), they decided to stick with the actual specific consumer – who has now grown up. From Happy Meals to Internet Se Hatt for Two Minute – McDonald’s isn’t talking to a different consumer actually. It’s talking to the exact same consumer.
That kid’s memory of McDonald’s is pre internet. Its pre isolation. Its pre smart phones and pre wifi.
Its about friends and family and birthday parties and uncles and aunts and shared McAloo Tikis.
This is pure brilliance. This supposedly young, fresh, cool and new age (so new age that it actually asks you to go off line rather than online) is actually a nostalgia campaign.
It’s reminding youngsters about their childhood and asking them to relive it, the way they did with their parents, in the late 90s and early Noughties.
And hopefully in a few years when these youngsters marry and have kids of their own, they will again bring those children back to McDonald’s – because the memories would have resurfaced. And with that the experience of McDonald’s mein hai kuchh baat… to aaj McDonald’s ho jaaye….
Kya hua? Kuchh yaad aa gaya? I will spare you the trouble of going online and researching those two taglines. They were the first two campaigns McD did in India. So now, internet se hatt, for two minute.