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McDonald's Restaurants advertising & marketing assignments

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Selected McDonald's advertising

The McDonald's brand is almost as universal as Coke. The group's 39,000th restaurant opened during 2020, and those golden arches now spread across 119 countries, welcoming some 70m customers every day. Systemwide sales topped $100bn for the first time in 2019. Not enough, the company still says. On any day McDonald's still only serves less than 1% of the world population, leaving plenty of room for growth. Following a difficult couple of years in the early 2000s the group took unprecedented steps to close under-performing outlets, even pulling out of a few markets altogether. That move appeared to have paid off by 2004, and McDonald's reported strong growth for much of the following decade, even in the face of an economic downturn. A key factor was the broadening of the menu with an enhanced range of breakfast items, healthier chicken and salad meals and premium beverages. The company also pushed aggressively into the coffee shop sector in several key international markets as well as the US with its McCafé brand. However the reviving US economy brought fresh challenges from 2013 onwards. Domestic sales suddenly stalled, despite a frenetic burst of menu innovation, as customers moved away to less established rivals, while international performance was dented by a variety of different challenges in regional markets. Even after several changes of both management and strategy those troubles took some time to resolve. The biggest problem seemed to be securing consistent growth in the company's key market, the US. There were signs that the group was finally on the right track by 2018 as a result of new innovations such as all-day breakfast and other menu adjustments, in-store digital order kiosks, home deliveries and other such introductions. At the same time, the chain set about reducing the number of company-owned outlets in favour of franchised stores. By the end of 2020, only around 2,677 of the chain's 39,198 outlets were directly owned. As a result company revenues have steadily declined even as profits and systemwide sales have increased (barring an inevitable dip in Covid-impacted 2020). Reported revenues for 2021 were $23.2bn, while net income hit a new high of $7.5bn. Systemwide sales touched $112.5bn in 2021, up 21% on the year before and 12% on pre-pandemic 2019. The group has also set about building customer loyalty with the MyMcDonald's Rewards program. Already tested internationally, it finally arrived in the US in summer 2021. CEO Steve Easterbrook left the group abruptly during 2019 following an inter-office romance with a subordinate in contravention of company policy. He was replaced by Chris Kempczinski.

Capsule checked 9th August 2021

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Which agencies handle advertising for McDonald's? Find out more from Adbrands Account Assignments

Marketing decisionmaker for McDonald's? Find out more from Adbrands Account Assignments

Who are the competitors of McDonald's? See Restaurants & Bars for other companies. Also see Global Brands

Historical profile information for McDonald's

Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Marketer Moves 11th Jul 2022: New CMO named at McDonald's Germany. See Marketer Moves (members only).

Marketer Moves 20th Jun 2022: New CMO TBC at McDonald's Germany. See Marketer Moves (members only).

Marketer Moves 7th Jun 2022: New CEO at McDonald's Canada. See Marketer Moves (members only).

Adbrands Update 16th May 2022: Two major global marketers have taken further steps to withdraw altogether from Russia. Having already suspended operations there, McDonald's will now exit Russia altogether. It has agreed to sell all its outlets to one of its local licensees Alexander Govor, who plans to reopen them under a new name. In a statement, the fast food giant said "The humanitarian crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, and the precipitating unpredictable operating environment, have led McDonald's to conclude that continued ownership of the business in Russia is no longer tenable, nor is it consistent with McDonald's values." The company has said it will ensure that staff continue to be paid up to completion of the sale. The group will write off around $1.4bn against the disposal. Meanwhile, Renault, controlling shareholder in Russia's biggest car manufacturer Avtovaz, has agreed to sell its 68% stake to Moscow's local government and the state-controlled organisation NAMI - the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute. The sale price was reportedly one rouble. Renault said the cost of writing off that business will amount to around €2.2bn. In a significant footnote to its announcement, Renault said it has retained a six-year option to buy back its interest in the business.

Adbrands Update 9th Mar 2022: McDonald's, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola finally bowed to growing pressure from customers, investors and indeed their own staff to suspend operations in Russia in the wake of President's Putin's invasion of Ukraine. All with significant business in what is now increasingly a pariah nation, they were among the most important names to join the flood exiting that country. McDonald's said it was closing all its outlets in Russia but will continue to pay its 62,000 local employees, and almost all the other companies quitting the country have vowed to continue offering support to their local staff. PepsiCo, which generated sales of $3.4bn in Russia last year, is ending sales of its international beverage brands but will continue to sell potato chips as well as its local dairy, juice and baby formula products. It said it was investigating a write-off of that business. Other new additions in the past 24 hours to the list of companies suspending operations in Russia are Starbucks and Yum Brands, whose businesses are operated in Russia by local licensees, as well as Unilever and Procter & Gamble, Heineken, Universal Music Group and Imperial Brands.

Adbrands Update 8th Mar 2022: Though many Western companies have been quick to suspend operations in Russia in protest at the brutal invasion of Ukraine, there are some notable holdouts. Among the most significant are McDonald's and PepsiCo. The Russian outlets of other fast-feeders such as KFC, Subway and Starbucks are almost all run by local franchisees, but McDonald's owns 712 of its 847 restaurants in Russia (and it also owns all 108 outlets in Ukraine). The Russian restaurants are continuing to operate normally, and the company has made no statement about the war. With famously long-standing roots in Russia dating back to the 1970s, PepsiCo is now that country's biggest food and drink business, offering a wide variety of products including international brands as well as local jewels in the fruit juice, dairy, infant foods and bottled water segments. It too has avoided any comment on the war and continues to operate normally. Coca-Cola and Mondelez are among the other companies that are continuing to trade normally in Russia.

Marketer Moves 24th Aug 2021: New marketing leaders at McDonald's. See Marketer Moves (members only).

Adbrands Daily Update 12th Aug 2021: "Steal My Fries". Everyone knows that there's nothing more annoying than even your best mate pinching food from your plate uninvited. ("Joey doesn't share food!!!") However, McDonald's Canadian agency Cossette is daring to suggest that a return to comparative normality post-lockdown might allow us to overlook even the loss of a few French fries to a good friend. Well I don't know about that, but the ad - dressed up as a musical number - is a total delight. And since the agency is Quebec's Francophone Cossette, there's even a French-language version too - "Vole mes frites"!

Marketer Moves 26th Jul 2021: New chief customer officer at McDonald's. See Marketer Moves (members only).

Adbrands Daily Update 28th Sep 2020: In a major break with long-established tradition, the German outpost of McDonald's has, for the first time anywhere, awarded sole custody of its creative account to a unit of WPP. For decades, the fast-feeder's business has been managed around the globe by either Leo Burnett or one of the big three Omnicom networks of DDB, TBWA and BBDO. The first crack in that tradition came in 2014 when McDonald's Germany selected Leo's Thjnk Tank, a joint venture between Leo Burnett and WPP-owned Thjnk. Then, last year, independent agency Wieden & Kennedy triumphed over DDB's dedicated We Are Unlimited agency for the US market. Now, at the beginning of November, the McDonald's Germany account will transfer from Leo's Thjnk Tank to WPP's Scholz & Friends.

Adbrands Daily Update 11th Aug 2020: In a startling sequel to the abrupt departure of McDonald's CEO Stewart Easterbrook last year, the fast food giant issued a lawsuit against its former leader demanding the return of severance pay worth around $42m. Easterbrook agreed to leave after he admitted to a sexual relationship with a subordinate, in contravention of company rules. However, following a whistleblower tip received after Easterbrook left the company, McDonald's discovered a collection of images (including nude photos) and text messages which the ex-CEO had deleted from his company phone before he handed it over last year to investigators, but which remained on the main corporate server. These revealed that he had conducted sexual relationships with at least three other employees; something Easterbrook had denied when originally interviewed by the board. The fact that he knowingly deceived the board and also attempted to destroy evidence of his activities puts Easterbrook in breach of the terms of his severance. [Updated: A settlement was eventually reached in Dec 2021. Easterbrook apologised and agreed to return the cash and stock allocated to him on his departure, the value of which had risen to $105m.]

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