MARKETING SOCIETY AWARDS for EXCELLENCE 2012: Long-term marketing excellence


WINNER McDonald's (Agency: Leo Burnett London)

After several decades of growth, McDonald's had entered a period of stagnation. By 2006, the brand had to entice back customers who had gone off it.

The company reviewed its entire marketing strategy through insight weekends. This confirmed that McDonald's had to rebuild trust to get people to reappraise the brand. To deliver a consistent approach, McDonald's introduced a four-pillared framework for all marketing activity. A complex marketing set-up revolves around four core values of value, variety, favourites and trust.

New products such as wraps and the Full Bean specialist coffee range have broadened the restaurant's appeal. Marketing activity has changed too, with techniques such as experiential included for the 'Too tasty to put down' wraps launch that saw street performers performing one-handed tricks as seen in TV ads and on YouTube. It produced the highest purchase motivation scores for three years.

Loyal customers weren't forgotten. Menu favourites have long been important and communications were reinvigorated with campaigns reminding people what they love about the brand.

Rebuilding trust has been a big part of the work, with ads promoting a more open culture on issues such as food quality and the practices of the business.

The pillars helped deliver a step-change in the impact of communications with better branded, more enjoyable, more motivating, more relevant communications. There have been dramatic improvements in the measurements of all four pillars.

Since 2006, McDonald's has enjoyed 24 quarters of consecutive growth. Judges praised a really clear strategy with strong metrics and good return on investment.


Sainsbury's (Agency: Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO)

Sainsbury's reputation as a quality retailer became an Achilles' heel as the economic downturn began to bite. Consumers, who in better times were prepared to spend more, were now reassessing what went into their baskets.

Through an ongoing series of big idea promotions, Sainsbury's has sought to demonstrate that quality and value are not irreconcilable. Gradually, from Feed Your Family for a Fiver, through the introduction of the Basics range, to Live Well for Less, the retailer has managed to outperform rivals in terms of perceptions of fair value.

Communications have spanned TV ads featuring Jamie Oliver, through in-store point of sale and recipe cards to quick response codes. The judges believed that the activities had changed perceptions without cheapening the brand. 'In many ways, this is a turnaround that goes to every touchpoint,' they said.


  • Hiscox, A story of nerve
  • WKD, 11 years of WKD excellence, 2000-2011
  • John Lewis, Winning in a recession


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