Tag Archives: marketing

Robert Levine

Even big companies are after your friendship. This is nicely articulated in confidential documents from the recent “My McDonald’s” advertising campaign created by the giant fast-food chain. McDonald’s was facing a number of marketing problems, most notably a flight of customers to competitors like Burger King and Wendy’s that was cutting into its profit margins. “More customers are telling us that McDonald’s is a big company that just wants to sell . . . sell as much as it can,” one executive wrote in a confidential memo. To counter this perception, McDonald’s called for ads directed at making customers feel the company “cares about me” and “knows about me,” to make customers believe McDonald’s is their “trusted friend.” A corporate memo introducing the campaign explained: “[Our goal is to make] customers believe McDonald’s is their ‘Trusted Friend.’ Note: this should bedone without using the words ‘Trusted Friend.’” Theoretically, of course, there’s something admirable about a huge company holding out its hand in fraternal trust. The sincerity of the gesture, however, is compromised by a message in bold red letters on the first page of the memo proclaiming: “ANY UNAUTHORIZED USE OR COPYING OF THIS MATERIAL MAY LEAD TO CIVIL OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION.”

Robert Levine, The Power of Persuasion, New York, 2003, pp. 57-58