It was April of 2020, and the New York Metro Tristate Area (NYM) was at the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic. At that point in time, NYM accounted for 32% of all of the Covid-19 cases in the USA, and restaurant closures were exceeding the national average with about 12% of restaurants in the area identified as temporarily closed. NYM was acutely feeling the impact of the pandemic unlike any other part of the country.
At the same time, McDonald’s national brand leadership was developing advertising to help showcase consumer safety measures taken as lobbies across the country were expected to reopen in May or June. We knew NYM McDonald’s would likely not to see lobbies opening until much later into the summer, and we would continue to lean heavily on drive-thrus and the McDelivery platform to continue to serve consumers in this time of crisis.
NYM McDonald’s needed to engage with consumers but in a way that felt authentic and unique to what they were going through. In Phase 1 of a larger strategic framework, developed by Moroch, we returned to local advertising in July with a message focused on safety measures being taken by the brand to ensure both food safety and crew member safety in our drive-thrus and for people picking up orders at the front counter for takeout. Also, as we worked with our local NYM franchisees, we saw and incredible opportunity to use this as a way to publicly say “thank you” to the 22,000 people employed in our local McDonald’s keeping restaurants running through the pandemic.
Creatively, we wanted to tell this story through the eyes of our crew members and the journey they take every day to keep our guests safe. So we started by casting actual NYM McDonald’s crew members for the spot and filmed in local restaurants. Hitting the right tone was critical. Our goal was to show the seriousness the crew members took their safety precautions but also remind people that McDonald’s is there for the customers, ready to fill their order. Add this to the complexity doing a remote shoot, and it was a tall order. However, with a lot of careful preparation and a great production team, we were able to tell a story that not only resonated with customers but gave the whole NYM something to be proud of.