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Multicultural Focus for McDonald’s

Sep 8, 2003  •  Post A Comment

A recent McDonald’s “Summer Beats” ad campaign for its Big Mac burger has lit the way for a new push into multicultural marketing, a major shift away from what advertising executive Luis Miguel Messianu calls McDonald’s previous “family-oriented, clean-cut middle America” approach.

The campaign, created by Miami-based agency del Rivero Messianu, targeted a younger audience with hip-hop music, a racially integrated cast of actors and actresses and English, Spanish and “Spanglish” lyrics. The 30-second spots ran on Univision, Telemundo and its bilingual sister network mun2, ABC, CBS and NBC, on cable networks including BET and in syndication.

The multiracial campaign, which ran for about six weeks in July and August, marked “the first time in many years that McDonald’s supported the Big Mac,” Mr. Messianu said.

“We ran heavily in a variety of programs on Telemundo and mun2 because the two networks are making deliberate efforts to target the younger generation of Hispanics,” said Mr. Messianu, partner and chief creative officer for del Rivero Messianu. The agency will be 10 years old in January and does about 80 Hispanic TV commercials a year. Ten to 12 of those are done in English and are aimed at bilingual Hispanics who watch both Spanish and general-market TV, he said.

“Telemundo is making inroads with bilinguals, who don’t have any relevant television venues. This is a whole new direction for McDonald’s, trying for this younger audience who are trendsetters in fashion and music,” he said. “We also selected programming on general market outlets which were relevant to Hispanics, like sports and `The Bill Cosby Show’ in syndication.”

The campaign apparently worked. “There was a 32 percent increase in sales in July and an overall increase of 45 percent for July and August,” Mr. Messianu said.

The original music written by hip-hop composer Doug E. Fresh was recorded in Los Angeles. Spanish lyrics were composed by Musica Aplicaba in Miami. “Spanglish” lyrics, a combination of Spanish and English, were written in-house and given to Mr. Fresh. Ben Mor, a noted hip-hop music video director, directed the shoot for Smuggler, an L.A. production company. “We select directors based on their expertise. If we’re only using Spanish dialogue, hiring a Hispanic production company is a plus,” Mr. Messianu said.What was the budget for the project? “I can tell you roughly, the production costs alone came to close to half a million dollars,” Mr. Messianu said. How close? Laughing, the executive answered: “Close.”

The commercial also focused on African Americans.

“McDonald’s gave us and the Burrell Communications Group of Chicago the lead on the project to develop our own campaigns,” Mr. Messianu said. “McDonald’s ultimately decided to go with our campaign. Normally the client works with DDB, the general market agency, as the lead agency.” Mr. Messianu said McDonald’s plans additional campaigns that will mix ethnicities.

As the Hispanic population continues to grow domestically, “Hispanic advertising is evolving, and borders and standards are blurring with Anglo campaigns,” Mr. Messianu said. “While an idea can be universal, you have to offer a multicultural connection in order to be relevant, with people from different ethnic backgrounds having fun and playing together. Today’s younger generation is far more aware of diversity. Multicultural now means general market. In Los Angeles, for example, 50 percent of the population is nonwhite.”