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Choose your burger. No, really!

McDonald’s new McSpicy ad breaks clutter and creates brand ownership

It is rare to see a brand pitch one of its own existing products against a newly launched product. In its latest McDonald’s ad, the Roadies twins Raghu and Rajiv face-off on their favourite burgers – McSpicy and newly launched Indi McSpicy. At the end, they ask consumers to vote either of the two off the menu. The loser will be phased out by McDonald’s.

Since QSR chains introduce or knock off menu items after intense testing, the ad comes as a surprise. And does it make any sense? After all, the company gets daily sales data on which items are selling well and thus knows which ones to keep and which ones to take off the menu. It can very well base its decision on that, rather than a poll.

Kiran Khalap of Chlorophyll brand and communication consultancy feels that it is a sensible move. “Because of the internet, the psychological ownership of the brand is now distributed. So every stakeholder, be it a consumer, dealer, or employee has a say in the development of the brand. Therefore, it is a very good strategy to invite consumers in,” says Khalap.

Engaging people is a well tried strategy for ad-makers. But there is a massive amount of distraction that consumers face, primarily through social media. So, what are the chances that he will bear the pain of visiting one more website to cast a vote? Khalap says, “In reality it doesn’t matter whether this wins or that wins but you are allowing the consumer to become part of the brand.”

Harminder Sahni of Wazir Advisors believes an ad based on a different idea helps in the current scenario. “It is very hard to compete with ad muscle of e-commerce and FMCG companies. You are not directly competing with them but you are competing for eyeballs.” He goes on to add, “McDonald’s must be thinking, ‘We anyway have to take one off, so why not create some excitement around it’,” adds Sahni. 

He feels that the biggest challenge is getting enough consumers excited to engage with your brand. “It is all about activity and engagement. The end objective is not the key thing.” he says. In the end, the company might claim that its final choice was based on poll results but it won’t really matter as their sales data might have thrown up the same result. What matters really is the excitement it creates.”

Khalap agrees, “Its gesture takes on board the fact that consumer engagement today must go just beyond advertising, it must go into the places where consumer can contribute”. It seems McDonald’s is willing to go all out to give its consumers, one reason or the other, to buy its burgers.

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