Here we are again, another media storm over nothing.
Like it happens often lately, I came to know of a new major advertising campaign via Youtube instead of television. I often follow BOB’s channel, in which the super-funny BOB talks about ‘advertising and stuff’ and in this video he was discussing the errors in communication of the new Mc Donald’s Italian advertising campaign, they are blatant according to the good sense of anyone… or so I thought.
This is the commercial in question, even though only the lucky ones who, for some reason speaks Italian, will be able to understand… sorry about that:
A quick look around the web made me realize there was a major case going on
The napolitan pizza makers are on the front line, backed up by all people that, at least once in their lives, just need to be proud of being Italian, and who can blame them?
The victim here is the ITALIAN FOOD, the Italianism, the biggest reason for national pride (???)…… the PIZZA.
A typical Italian family is having dinner in a typical Italian pizzeria, when the waiter kindly asks the little boy what kind of pizza he would like to have, the child replys innocently
“An Happy Meal please!” (actually there was no ‘please’, in Italy we don’t say ‘please’ as much).
Conclusion: the family leave the restaurant as quick as possible, get to the nearest Mac Donald’s and everybody’s happy… THE END.
All I can say to Mac Donald’s about italian people is: NEVER EVER EVER TOUCH THEIR FOOD, and here some reasons that are brought up by the public to justify the anger strikes:
- The Italian Pizza is healthier and far more wholesome that the Happy Meal
- The fact that the Happy Meal is tastier than the Italian Pizza is false
- The fact that Italian kids prefer the Happy Meal to the Pizza is false
- Mc Donald’s has put the Italian pizza under ridicule
- The Italian Pizza is a symbol and can’t be discussed
Wait… let’s pause and think about this for a moment… in this spot Mc Donald’s NEVER said that Pizza is healthier than an Happy Meal…
Furthermore, pizza is NOT healthy at all! And most importantly, what most people constantly keep forgetting…
The goal of advertising IS NOT that of telling the truth!
I’m always amazed at how many people still don’t realize that.
So let’s analyze this commercial just from an advertizing point of view,
the first thing I’m going to ask myself is who is the target of this spot?
Clearly the families with children that eat out once a week.
The advertising team’s objective is to hook up these people in that ONE day of the week, giving them the strongest reason possible to choose Mc Donald’s rather than a more EXPENSIVE restaurant.
Let’s list the weak spots for this target are:
- They go out mainly to make the kids happy
- They don’t have much free time and they have to MAKE THAT ONE TIME COUNT
- They are ON A BUDGET
Once we made that clear, the second question I want to ask myself is: who are the competitors? this is was a question for the marketing office, and evidently they found an answer :the pizzerias and they are right.
Where do the families with children go in Italy when they eat out? The answer is, to Mc Donald’s or to a pizzeria.
Sure they don’t go for a kebab, o ar to a Chinese restaurant… I beg your pardon, for sure there are families who go to the Chinese restaurant on a Saturday, but probably not enough to build a whole marketing campaign upon them; can you imagine the wild rage of the Chinese community? Deeply offended by a multi-million dollars company like Mc Donald’s, who dared to make a Chinese kid choose the Happy Meal instead of the traditional Chinese steamed dumplings… atrocious!
Ok now that we zeroed in on the target and the competitor, let’s go and analyze this wretched commercial:
The Italian pizzeria where our story takes place strikes us as a unaturally quiet place: even though the venue looks full of people, all we can heare are some subtle background noises, and if we look around, we see that there are no other chidren besides our little main character!
The kid is sitting silently, holding the menu open on the table in front of him like an adult, we feel there is something wrong about the whole situation: this is not a place for a kid.
He looks at his parents with a questioning look: ‘What are you doing to me? Why did you bring me here?’
The parent’s couple is built arount the ideal target:
They appear nervous, they themselves are not convinced of their choice, dad shakes his head looking at the menu and they are both having a hard time deciding what to order, they have a limited budget and CAN’T GO WRONG.
When the waiter happily addresses the kid and asks what kind of ‘pizza’ he wants, the tension finally unravels when the kid answers “A Happy Meal (please)!”
Change of scenery: the kid is finally back to being a child again: he laughs, claps his hands and happily swing his legs from the chair, he can’t sit still anymore like in the ‘elegant’ pizzeria, now he’s a real life boy! (irony intended)
During the cathartic finale, the parents both look at the child giving their backs to the viewers, in this spot, the child is the center of the action and we finally see him laughing, THIS is what the target wants, THEY COULDN’T CARE LESS ABOUT A HEALTHY NUTRITION, THIS IS NOT THE PROBLEM THAT Mc Donald’s is trying to solve for them.
The ad is aimed at leaving one doubt: “If eat out just to make the kids happy, considering how much it costs a dinner for 3 or 4 at the restaurant, and probably they’d even PREFER a 5 euros Happy Meal… maybe we should go to Mc Donald’s”
‘When you go out that one time a week with your family, don’t waste you hard earned money and go to Mc Donald’s’, in a very sneaky way, this ad works.
In the end we live in a fre world and if I want to sell you something, I have to convince you and make you believe that my product is better than the others but the bottomline is…. the last decisions ALWAYS belongs to the consumers.
For the consumers Mc Donald’s and all the other big and small companies spend a big part of their income in advertising: only to convince them to buy their products.
What is the biggest damage you can make? DON’T BUY IT! 🙂
Besides, as we can see from this list, there are many Mc Donald’s restaurants in Napoles as well as all over Italy, a sign that not all Italians despise the occasional Happy Meal and, maybe, the same people who enjoy the ‘real and genuine Italian pizza’, also have a Happy Meal now and then.
Are these people suggesting that Mc Donald’s should advertize against itself? That they should create a commercial in which they convince people not to go to Mc Donald’s and to choose a nice traditional Italian pizza instead?
How would the world be if all the big companies started to think for us?
A world whereEni advertizes against the use of the car in favour of public transports… a world in which H&M proudly displays on its website the wage of the Chinese, Bulgarian, Cambodian, Bangladeshi people working for them, encouraging you to buy from companies that doesn’t allow exploitation of labour, a world where Del Monte promotes the need of choosing locally produced fruits and vegetables…
Is this really the world you are waiting for? Because let me tell you, it will never happen.
Unfortunately (or not) we have to take care of our health and of our conscience, no big multi-million dollars company will EVER do it for us, they make and sell things we like, things we need and that we could never have otherwise, and WE have to decide if they deserve our support and our money, and that’s all folks.
Please comment if you liked this article and want to read more about visual design stories from Italy. Also share with your friends!