There are few brands as iconic as McDonald’s. And whether you like or loathe their food, you can’t knock their marketing.
Let’s look at some of their best ads and campaigns over the last five years.
1. Raise Your Arches (2023)
McDonald’s latest spot was created by their long-running agency partner, Leo Burnett London.
As you watch it, you can almost hear one creative saying to another: “Hey, don’t you think the McDonald’s logo looks a bit like a pair of eyebrows?”
Directed by British filmmaker, Edgar Wright – the man behind Baby Driver, Last Night in Soho, and Shaun of the Dead – it starts with one woman suggesting a trip to McDonald’s by raising her eyebrows (or “arches”) to another.
The pair then waltz through the office, raising their arches at everyone they pass until the whole team is onboard.
It’s funny, relatable, and light on branding – everything a great McDonald’s ad should be.
Minimalism is a common theme in McDonald’s latest print advertising. And nowhere is this more evident than in their McDelivery Pins campaign.
Another brainchild of Leo Burnett London, this campaign takes the classic pin icon and transforms it into sesame seeds, ketchup splats, and bits of pickle to deliver their simple message: “we deliver”.
3. Breakfast, done properly. (2021)
This is the most complete campaign in the list – and again it comes from Leo Burnett London.
First up, you’ve got a series of classic fast-food porn ads with a big product shot, fun headline, and consistent strapline – “Nuffin like it” is my personal favorite here!
Then you’ve got a beautiful film, Own Little World, which shows how McDonald’s breakfast brings little moments of joy to everyday life.
And last but not least is a set of billboard ads featuring beautifully-shot, recently discarded McDonald’s packaging with nothing but a few crumbs in sight.
4. We Deliver (2021)
You know you’ve reached brand awareness level 100 when you don’t even need to show your whole logo – let alone a brand name.
To promote their delivery service in 2021, McDonald’s (and their good friends Leo Burnett London) released a series of posters that show the golden arches bouncing their way into your home.
With a minimalist style, clever use of color, and a diverse range of architectural designs, this campaign was instantly recognizable and relatable – wherever you live.
5. The ‘M’ Effect (2020)
OK, I’ve got a confession to make. I haven’t eaten McDonald’s in about seven years. But when I saw this campaign from TBWA Belgium in 2020, I almost did.
It took me right back to my childhood, sitting in the back of my parents’ car after a good school report or a trip to the dentist. The perfect treat for any kid.
With one emotive image and a subtle reflection of the golden arches, I was transported to that time, and suddenly the excited child in the ad was me.
6. Reflections (2020)
We head to the southern hemisphere now for DDB New Zealand’s Reflections campaign.
Featuring watery reflections of city lights on rainy streets, these ads feel almost like oil paintings at first glance. But with a quick look at the logo and the simple strapline, “Open late”, the penny drops.
7. Iconic Stacks (2020)
I’ve already talked about McDonald’s brand awareness in this list. They’re brave enough to show you just a glimpse or reflection of their logo because they know you’ll recognize it.
Well, this campaign from Leo Burnett London doesn’t even do that. Each execution shows a list of ingredients stacked on top of each other, and you’re left to work out the rest.
And the best thing about an ad without any branding? It gets people talking.
8. McDelivery (2019)
Created by TBWA Paris in the winter of 2019, this campaign shows that there’s nothing quite like McDonald’s delivery service to brighten up a rainy day.