September 2 marks the 6th anniversary of the launch of “I’m Lovin’ It” as McDonald’s global brand tagline. Six years is an extraordinarily long, full life for an ad slogan (for example, Wendy’s “It’s Waaaay Better Than Fast Food” had a shelf life of about 18 months). “I’m Lovin’ It” has run longer than any other McDonald’s theme (see them all here). Longer than the iconic “We Do It All For You” (1975-79) or “You Deserve a Break Today” (1980-83, and again in ’89). Longer than my favorite, “Did Somebody Say McDonald’s?” (1997-00).
McDonald’s must be itching to find a successor even though it has invested billions of dollars in making “Lovin’” as globally recognizable as Tiger Woods. Every one of its dozens of agencies likely is devoting a bit of time here and there to developing something as universal, as upbeat, as translatable and as young-at-heart as “I’m Lovin’ It.”
“We challenged our agency partners to put aside everything they knew about us and come up with fresh, original thinking,” Larry Light, then McDonald’s EVP-Global Chief Marketing Officer said in unleashing “I’m Lovin’ It” in 2003. Last year, Mary Dillon, now McD’s global marketing chief, told Brandweek: “‘I’m Lovin’ It’ is a campaign that has a lot of life ahead of it. There are many campaigns that have gone five, 10, 15 years; the trick is to keep strengthening it and making it better.” Maybe so, but I’ll bet she’d love to leave her mark by finding the next “I’m Lovin’ It” on her watch. Wouldn’t you?
Perhaps McDonald’s already is holding tryouts. On Nov. 2, 2008, McDonald’s in France launched a campaign with the tagline “Venez Commes Vous Êtes,” or “Come As You Are.” It is no toss-away line: The chain reportedly spent €11 million on it just in November and December and is devoting €15 million to it this year. “Come As You Are” has a multicultural openness to it that is perfect for that most cross-cultural brand, McDonald’s. The “Venez” commercials are about being who you are, no matter your gender, race, country of origin or burger preference. “I’m Lovin’ It” (in English) appears in some of the “Venez” commercials, which is fine: the two could coexist for a while.
Is “Venez Commes Vous Êtes” translatable? No less so than “I’m Lovin’ It,” which becomes the blandly unpoetical “I Love It” in many countries. In Ukraine, “я це люблю” is closer to “I Love This,” I’m told. Rockin’.
McDonald’s reportedly has been negotiating with the International Olympic Committee to be the exclusive “meal brand” at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. That has some local UK restaurant brands up in arms. But McDonald’s is pushing hard, perhaps because the Olympics would be such a perfect time to launch a new global advertising positioning, wouldn’t it?
Do you think “Come As You Are” is a worthy successor to “I’m Lovin’ It”? Let us know, or feel free to suggest a different, better one.