Monday, February 9, 2015

Wow! Corporations Can Even Make “Lovin” Seem Creepy

For those who haven’t heard, McDonalds has come up with a new marketing campaign, “Pay with lovin’.” I had to read about it myself, despite it being rolled out during a Super Bowl ad. It’s not as though I NEVER hit McD’s, albeit it is a rare event, but it’s probably more a matter of my hitting the Drivethru those times I do visit the Golden Arches and this campaign doesn’t lend itself to drivethru customers.

At first blush, it sounds really nice – a free meal for “paying” for our meal with some act of kindness, or connection - however, in practice, I can’t imagine it not coming off phony, awkward and often a tad bit creepy.

THAT, in and of itself, is no mean fete. It can’t be easy making “love” creepy, but chalk up yet another modern “miracle” up to Corporate America.

McDonalds sure paid a LOT to unveil its new marketing strategy that allows random customers to “pay with lovin!” Those Super Bowl ads cost a record $4.5 MILLION per 30-second spot. Sometimes the “lovin” is as simple as asking another customer to dance, or telling a stranger that you love them, but in most cases it seems to result in awkward, forced and sometimes downright creepy moments.

An intriguing question is, why are such ideas so readily embraced in Corporate America? Are their marketing departments that alienated from reality to not be aware of how such campaigns will morph into creepiness in real life?

Apparently so, but HOW?...WHY?

Probably because their marketing people “never eat there,” so they can’t really imagine how awkward a casual diner might be with finding themselves unexpectedly being coerced to interact with strangers in a faked, awkward exchange with a stranger, manipulated by an overly enthusiastic cashier.

Some have chalked this apparent desperation to McD’s losing market share (McDonalds share of the  19 – 21 year old market has dropped almost 13 percentage points over the past four years and it’s 4th quarter profits for 2014 fell by nearly 15%), but this just seems like an ill-conceived plan to combat that drop off.

McDonald’s would seem to be better off putting the money they’ve earmarked for this campaign into something...ANYTHING else.

In the end, McDonald’s has a niche, fast, casual food. They are not and should not look to be another Shake Shack, or Five Guys, that SN’T their niche and in the end no one, nor any Corporation can be all things to all people.

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