“Fancy a McDonald’s?” serves up life’s simple pleasures: A Q&A with Andrew Long, Creative Director, Leo Burnett London

Leo Burnett London’s latest campaign for McDonald’s reinforces the power of creativity to deliver moments of respite and joy when we need it most.

A smile, some solace and a sweet treat: great creative has the power to deliver moments of respite and joy when we need it most.

In July, Leo Burnett London released a new campaign, “Fancy a McDonald’s?,” across advertising mediums that culminated in a ‘walk-thru’ billboard offering free McFlurries in central London at summer’s peak.

The next frontier for experiential, which capitalized on prominent out-of-home placements, was met with great fanfare; and the campaign was broadly featured in ad trades, including AdAge’s “Editor’s Pick” and Campaign’s “Ad of the Day.”

Read on for a Q&A with Creative Director Andrew Long who explains the thinking that inspired the work, with key considerations for both virtual and in-person engagements.

1. How did present circumstances, cultural trends or challenges inform the campaign?

When we create work for McDonald’s, we try to stay as wired into the collective mood of the nation as much as possible. The current cultural context is that life for most people is full of pressures.

Whether that’s the pressure to succeed, the pressure to be a good parent or something else – it’s a feeling we all experience from time to time. The circumstances of the pandemic have amplified all of this more than we could ever imagine. So, a platform that positions McDonald’s as a small, but important, moment of release away – where we can let go and just enjoy – felt timelier than ever.

2. What shaped the decision to produce TV ads with no dialogue and what went into selecting the (awesome) soundtrack?

We actually never spoke specifically about making work with no dialogue. However, we were mindful of the fact we wanted to create something that made people feel something rather than think too much. With that in mind, we wanted this work to capture the purest form of emotions, whether that was happiness or contentment.

Music is most certainly a big thing for us in all our work – it’s often our starting point – but in this case, we wanted it to be something that supported the picture rather than led it.

In ‘Laughter’ we almost wanted the voice of the people to be the soundtrack, so we selected something very stripped back that had just enough presence to establish the emotional space we were aiming for.

The track in ‘Me Time’ is a personal favorite of mine and one we’d wanted to work into a concept for a while. We’d been re-watching The Crown, and the use of music in that series is so spectacular. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t inspired heavily by one scene. It just goes to show, inspiration can come from anywhere.

3. Conversely, the radio spots rely on entirely on punchy dialogue. What goes into creating an ad campaign that speaks to audiences across such diverse mediums?

For McDonald’s, we want our work to come across as a fan of the product speaking to a fan of the product. We want the work to demonstrate that the creators get the brand in the same way everyone else does.

In film or print, we can rely on the visual to communicate some of those little idiosyncrasies, whereas in radio we can only rely on audio, so the words must be very focused. Ultimately, no matter what the channel, it always comes back to ensuring the work is as insightful as possible to connect with customers no matter where they are.

4. Speaking of – it seems new media platforms emerge every day. Can you define what the industry refer to as a “dual-service” ad?

The ‘walk-thru’ billboard was an idea we had to utilize some of the out-of-home advertising we were already doing and add a layer of interactivity to it that would create a moment for customers to just enjoy. It turned a very simple message into a fun experience that people absolutely loved.

The lines between experience and communication are so blurred now, which creates so many fun opportunities to execute our platforms. The fact that this special build popped up at a time when we were getting a rare glimpse of British sunshine and people were finally free from restrictions made the whole thing even better.

5. There are clear obstacles to live experiences right now. What’s next for in-person integrations in advertising campaigns? And how might that align with (virtual) touch points for people who prefer to stay home?

Well, if the past 18 months or so have taught us anything, it is that the virtual world and the in-person world can and should co-exist more than in the past. There are some things that work better in-person – a ‘walk-thru’ billboard, for example – but some things are the most powerful in that intimate surrounding of a person’s home, like a great piece of film.

The best platform ideas are the ones that can move between experiences seamlessly, connect multiple touch points, and show up in a positive way no matter what the context. That’s what we tried to do with “Fancy a McDonald’s?” and to be honest I think we’re just scratching the surface of where this can go.