The UK is one of US food giant McDonald's' key territories, but it faced several challenges from the late 1990s to mid 2000s. Inevitably the brand dominates the local restaurant market, but it struggled for several years to adjust to consumer concerns over unhealthy eating. Those problems appeared to have been resolved in the mid-2000s and in 2007, McDonald's UK reported its highest sales for more than a decade. That improvement has continued since then. For a time the group also dabbled in other brand chains. It acquired a minority stake in much admired British sandwich chain Pret a Manger in 2001, but sold those shares sold in 2008. Steve Easterbrook - now McDonald's group CEO - was widely credited with turning around UK performance during his tenure as UK chief executive from 2006 to 2010, re-positioning the chain from junk food outlet to family favourite. Paul Pomroy is now chief executive. For 2017, corporate entity McDonald's Restaurants Ltd reported best-ever turnover of almost £1.6bn. Sales from owned restaurants were £1.1bn, with royalty and services fees from licensees of £480m.
Capsule checked 30th October 2018
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Historical profile information for McDonald's UK
Adbrands Social Media 18th Mar 2019: "We Could". Here's another mini-masterpiece from Leo Burnett London for McDonald's; in this case the fast-feeder's McCafé sub-brand. Last time, the target was pretentious coffee shops; this time, Burnetts take aim at the advertising perpetrated by rival coffee brands. You can practically name the brand for each one of the different ad parodies (and they almost all begin with an N and end with an é) The shift from one type of voiceover to another is an especially nice touch. It's a deliciously "meta" approach to the whole thing: an ad making fun of other ads.
Adbrands Social Media 18th Feb 2019: "Interview". Here's another great ad from Leo Burnett London for McDonald's; and another example of a uniquely productive relationship between agency and client. A wise man once told me: always be nice to people on the way up; you never know when you might need them. Here's a perfect illustration of that advice. The office environment has proved fertile ground before for Burnett's and McDonald's - the spot 'New Job' a few years ago was one of their best - and here again McDonald's is presented as the great equaliser, the place where all types of people find common comfort. Simple but brilliant.
Adbrands Social Media 30th Jan 2019: "The Big Mac Debate". The partnership between McDonald's and Leo Burnett London gets my vote as the local industry's single most productive advertising relationship. There are are some other contenders (VW/A&E DDB and perhaps Ikea/Mother), but none quite so consistently strong as this. When it comes to the full 60-seconders (as opposed to slightly more disposable 30s), you can almost always count on a miniature masterpiece. Here's the latest little gem, a brilliantly observed collection of friendly arguments about what makes a Big Mac: with or without bacon. "The structural integrity of the burger has been compromised..." Classic!
Adbrands Social Media 20th Nov 2018: "Reindeer Ready". It's not the best ad of the season, nor even a particularly good example of the long and successful partnership between McDonald's in the UK and its agency Leo Burnett London, but they deserve special notice for trying something different for the holidays. To its credit, McD UK has been marketing its "Reindeer Treats" carrot sticks as a special Christmas treat (for small humans) for a couple of years, and there was a similar though less Christmassy campaign this time last year. But this one goes the whole hog (whole reindeer?) with an all-out Father Christmas theme. Those animated reindeer are great, a guaranteed Yuletide child-pleaser. And you have to admire the bravery of a restaurant known for its meat splashing out in such a big way on veggie snacks.
Adbrands Social Media 16th Oct 2018: "Swiss Stack". Leo Burnett London's latest for McDonald's is a great gag supporting the chain's Great Tastes of the World promotion. In the past these have involved a couple of customers discussing what they are going to order and becoming - like those Geico "bro" ads - progressively more over-the-top American, or whatever the promotion of the month happens to be. That's funny, but this approach is funnier, dropping those transformations in favour of a witty play on the words of the campaign slogan "Sometimes, just a taste is all you need".
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