The communication goal
McDonald’s has always been about quality of ingredients. Only 100% beef goes into its hamburgers. Hundreds of thousands of eggs are cracked daily for breakfast. Coffee is brewed freshly every 20 minutes. And only the freshest lettuce goes into the salads.
The challenge was to promote this quality of-ingredients message at a time when McDonald’s was poised to launch a new range of products, including a Southwest salad. Our solution? Make the medium the message. Literally.
In short, we grew a billboard. Over three weeks, thousands of heads of lettuce grew to spell out ‘Fresh Salads’.
After locating a South-facing billboard for maximum sunlight, we called upon one of the nation’s leading horticulturists. He scoured the country for the 17 varieties of lettuce that go into a McDonald’s salad. After that, it was up to Mother Nature and an army of gardeners watering and pruning twice a day.
The appeal of McDonald’s salads crosses multiple demographic groups. However, it was felt that the core audience for this initiative was 18–49.
The target audience was exposed to the messaging because of its prime location: a highly populated neighbourhood; next to a major subway station and alongside numerous busy bus routes; and metres away from Chicago’s most popular sporting venue.
Sales in the market area increased by 30%, with more than 546,000 salads sold. PR return on investment was extraordinary. Local broadcast media covered the story, as did numerous national and international publications. The billboard also made a huge splash in the blogosphere
Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett, Chicago
Executive Creative Director: Mark Tuttsel
Creative Director: John Montgomery/John Condon
Art Director: Vince Cook/Brian Shembeda
Copywriter: Gary Fox-Robertson/Avery Gross