Saturday, November 07, 2009

7229: Not Lovin’ The Cultural Cluelessness.

Check out the Advertising Age report below, immediately followed by a brief MultiCultClassics perspective.

Ethnic Insights Form Foundations of McDonald’s Marketing
CMO Golden: ‘Start With the Ones Who Are Setting the Pace’

By Emily Bryson York

PHOENIX — The marketing at McDonald’s is informed first and foremost by ethnic insights that shape the chain’s marketing to African Americans, Asians and Hispanics. Then McDonald’s lays those insights over work for the general market.

“Ethnic segments are leading lifestyle trends,” Neil Golden, chief marketer officer of McDonald’s USA, told the ANA assembly. He added that his team decided to “start with the ones who are setting the pace.”

They’re also where a lot of the money is. Mr. Golden said 40% of McDonald’s current U.S. business comes from the Hispanic, Asian and African-American markets, and 50% of consumers under the age of 13 are from those segments. “And they’re among our most loyal users,” Mr. Golden said.

‘No malls in the ghetto’
McDonald’s has attempted to understand ethnic segments for decades, hiring Burrell Communications in the early 1970s. But they haven’t always gotten it right. Mr. Golden recalled a meeting with Chicago franchisees 15 years ago in which he announced that the African-American population was going to love a new product and marketing program. A franchisee asked him how he knew. McDonald’s had
done a study. The franchisee asked where it was held. Mr. Golden told him it had been conducted in a mall. “We don’t have malls in the ghetto,” the franchisee told him.

Since then, Mr. Golden said McDonald’s has instituted an “approach that ensures this will never be an afterthought.” Now during in the product-development cycle, McDonald’s looks for a disproportionate level of ethnic insights, he said. Out of nine focus groups, whenever possible, two are Hispanic, two are Asian, two are African American and the remaining three represent the rest of the market.

When McDonald’s takes its ads to market, the chain makes sure that spending behind certain spots represents the country’s ethnic makeup, such as 15% behind Hispanic marketing, 12% behind African America, 5% behind Asian.

As for the ad-creative-development process, Mr. Golden said each ethnic agency is given a blank canvas—within the “I’m Lovin’ It” framework—to create campaigns that will resonate in the respective market. The chain’s McCafe launch, for instance, included a Hispanic push aimed at the increasingly empowered Latina. The Asian McCafe work focused on the quality of ingredients. And while McCafe is performing
well in the general market, it’s doing even better in many ethnically driven locations.

The chain has also looked for more meaningful touchpoints, including a scholarship program for Hispanic students in Texas and tie-ins with Lunar New Year celebrations to target the Asian community.

And it’s paying off. McDonald’s ethnic marketing continues to receive accolades from trusted names in the communities they’re targeting, such as Latina Style and Black Enterprise magazine.

He also pointed out McDonald’s “walks the talk” in its C-suite as well. His boss, McDonald’s USA President Don Thompson, is African American. Mr. Thompson’s boss, Chief Operating Officer Ralph Alvarez, is Hispanic. CEO Jim Skinner has said his goal is not to have to talk about it anymore.

Hard to argue with results
It’s hard to argue with McDonald’s business results. Since 2002, he said the U.S. business alone has grown by $10 billion, or $750,000 per restaurant. That translates into an additional 1.8 billion customer visits each year, or about 75,000 visits per restaurant. Restaurant cash flow has grown 50% over the same period.

Mr. Golden admitted that his company in 2000 “had lost its way.” The company was focusing on limited-time promotions and partnerships with other properties that subordinated the McDonald’s brand. At the time, he said, the marketers wanted to get back to the glory of “Nothin’ but net” and “You deserve a break today.”

“We’d lost our confidence,” Mr. Golden said. “Reinventing and modernizing the brand had to be a top priority.”

He credited the “Plan to Win,” an overall business strategy unveiled in 2002, and the “I’m Lovin’ It” theme, introduced in 2003. He said the five-note jingle now enjoys 100% awareness, boosting not only sales results, but also morale.

When asked about the growing momentum toward fast-food regulation, Mr. Golden said, “Our commitment is to evolve what we offer our consumers as consumers change their tastes and needs,” pointing to the addition of low-fat milk and apple dippers to kids meals, as well as grilled chicken options and better salads. Now, said the former tennis pro, consumers can eat at McDonald’s “six, seven, 10 times a week. I sure do.”

For a corporation that has been partnering with minority advertising agencies since the 1970s, McDonald’s still displays disturbing levels of cultural cluelessness.

First, Mickey D’s continues to baffle the senses by boasting of its own diversity while working alongside general market agencies whose exclusivity borders on institutionalized discrimination. Sorry, hiring minority shops does not compensate for the hypocrisy.

Equally perplexing is the proclamation that “ethnic segments are leading lifestyle trends.” Um, this has been common knowledge since even before the launch of shops such as Burrell. Yet minority firms must continue to repeat the point again and again.

And while advertisers like Mickey D’s recognize that minority consumers lead the trends, they are loath to let minority agencies lead the marketing.

Sure, Mickey D’s will occasionally permit the minorities to pitch against the Whites for projects. Additionally, minority spots will get general market media rotation. But in the end, there is a steadfast reluctance to hand over the reins completely.

Perhaps it’s rooted in the “No Malls In The Ghetto” recollection. Do advertisers like Mickey D’s believe deep down that the majority of minorities are ghetto dwellers?

More importantly, do advertisers realize that by prohibiting minority agencies from achieving a greater status, they are ultimately maintaining the corporate ghetto also known as multicultural marketing?

1 comment:

legend said...

By | LOS ANGELES, CA November 7, 2009 11:59:00 pm:
Jim Glover was a great Creative Director on McDonalds. He came over to Leo Burnett from Burrell and within a couple of years he had lit the tween faction on fire and introduced the breakfast segment with a wonderful and warm "Morning In America" campaign. Then the head of McDonald's started asking Burnett management why Mr. Glover was not made a creative director on their business. That was when it started going South for Jim at Burnett.

Within a year, Jim Glover was gone from the Mc Donald's business. He elected to open his own shop. A former Burnett account guy was at Hardee's and so Jim's new agency was given an ethnic assignment from Hardee's. An ethnic assignment. For the guy who introduced McDonald's breakfast menu to America.

Where is Jim Glover today? Certainly not an EVP at Burnett. Why not? Because his client recognized his genius but could not recognize
why their agency could ignore it for so long.

Mr. Golden, nobody who reads this magazine cares about the impact of ethnic consumers on your business model or your value proposition.
They just want us to shut-up and go away, so they can make believe the world outside looks like the world inside their agencies.

Imagine the impact James Glover's work would have had on your company's bottom line if his genius had been supported, rather than shut-down and forced out, because Mr. Schrage stood up for him.

Can something like this actually happen in America? Can a company whose CMO admits to the importance of the minority audience to his bottom line, let it happen? Where is the leadership going to come from to end this deplorable condition, if not from a company whose bottom line is so impacted?

The AMA and all of its members need to take a close look at the upcoming Census. Turning your collective backs on the biased hiring practices of your advertising agencies is just bad business.

The solutions will not come from your Ethnic agencies. You pay them so little they can barely make their payrolls, let alone lead the way to new practices. No the solutions will come from your general market agencies. Not the Burnetts and the DDB/Needhams. Sooner or later you will see them for the under-achievers they are.

The solutions will come from the next generation of GM agencies. The ones smart enough to work seamlessly across all forms of media. The ones smart enough to have thrown the color bar out with all of the other archaic business practices that continue to waste your money like water. The ones fortunate enough to have principals who reflect the population not the country club.

Don't pat yourself on the back just yet, Mr. Golden. Your golden opportunity lies ahead of you. Level the playing field. Break new ground.
See your current agencies for what they are.
A system that perpetuates the worst practices of our society.

Take the initiative. Start something new. Show us you care.