Communication for McDonald’s has evolved to ‘sociability’ in 20 years: Kedar Teny

The brand has launched a new festive campaign which will focus mainly on TV and digital, it gives consumers a chance to decide which burger will be there on the menu

e4m by Sarmistha Neogy
Updated: Oct 23, 2015 8:10 AM
Communication for McDonald’s has evolved to ‘sociability’ in 20 years: Kedar Teny

As McDonald’s nears the completion of 20 years in India, Kedar Teny, Director of Marketing & Digital at McDonald’s India, talks about festive plans, how advertising has changed over the years, marketing strategies, challenges and scopes in the QSR industry.

The brand has recently launched a new product-oriented festive campaign ‘Battle of Spicy’ which gives consumers a chance to decide which burger- McSpicy and the New Indi McSpicy will stay on the menu through a Voting contest. It will be a 360-degree campaign conceptualised by Leo Burnett, with focus mainly on TV and the digital medium.


What was the insight behind the ‘Sharing Packs’ concept, which turned to be very popular?

Last year, one of the researches done by Leo Burnett Chicago team for us, just confirmed my hypothesis that there is a massive amount of sameness which has come into the category. It told us that between our competition and us, all of us are bunched in the same quadrant. The only one that has pulled away from the bunch up was Starbucks, for obvious reason. Even though it is in the QSR space, but it is very differently positioned. But the rest of it was broadly in the same space. So we had to think of what are the other permutation and combination which are available so that we can pull out. While consumers have started seeing this as a category of convenience, the position available or was lying vacant was in the space of sociability. Consumers had the notion that- You can’t share a Sandwich; on the other hand, Pizza was all about sharing. So we were like, we are the oldest when it comes to sharability. People come to us and share food. We are the oldest offline social network.

The average group size today at any table is between 2.3-2.4 (arithmetic figure), but two people definitely come together at any time. In that also, if these two are going to fidget with their phones, then what is the point of stepping out together? So a little nudge we offered to people saying ‘Flip to share, instead of Click to share’, just go kuch Pal offline. This we enabled at our product level by creating bundles which are allowed to share. Today these sharing packs have almost become an asset for us, which we can leverage on.

Which are your markets which do well?

Mumbai is the biggest market, followed by our presence in Pune, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and then the four Southern states. Bangalore is important and it is one of the second big centres for us in terms of the number of restaurants. It is then followed by Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad), Tamil Nadu (Chennai).

What is the response from the Tier-II and the Tier-III towns?

We are not present in Tier-III towns. But we are expanding our footprints gradually to Tier-II places, like Mangalore, Hubli and Palakkad.

We have realised that there needs to be an evolution of the brand, it is almost like a market development. The concept is still new there- that step in to the restaurant, place your order, and get a seat for yourself. These are new habits which people are getting used to. But the good part is there is already a residual awareness of what the brand McDonald’s is, once it comes to town, the trail happens as planned.

What kind of marketing mix works better in these towns?

In a place like Mangalore, opening of a store generates excitement even before its launch. You make announcements through press releases, Outdoor hoardings like ‘Coming Soon or Opening Soon’. The initial trails are huge, just the awareness through PR, generates enough curiosity for people to say ‘I want to make an appointment on the day of the launch and I don’t want to miss on it.’ Local mediums definitely add a big amount of response to the proposition.

How do you deal with competition in this category?

Western Fast Food (WFF) as a category is so nascent, for e.g. a city like Hong Kong has 465 outlets of Mc Donald’s alone and we have not even scratched the surface realistically. So the headroom for growth is massive and with more people coming into the category, will only increase awareness. We welcome competition because it is actually important for the category to be built in.

We don’t fear any kind of competition, we are confident about the services which we offer, the kind of products which we put out in front of our customers, safety, hygiene everything is taken care of. McDonald’s has its loyal base of customers, it stands for comfort food and it has been there for almost 20 years now. There is actually nothing to worry about, because we are continuously innovating to stay abreast with our consumers.

You launched your new campaign around festivals. Please share the thought behind that.

Our new campaign is only timed around festivals and it is not a festive offering campaign. We don’t do festival campaigns like theDiwali Bonanza or the Dussehra offers. But yes considering footfalls do increase during this time, the intention is to be on top of the consumer’s mind among 20 choices they have. So communication needs to be such that, it breaks the clutter and a product that excites them at the mere sound of it, so the moment, they see two golden arches, they know instantly, that this is where I am going to get it!

Who would be the ideal TG for your brand?

There are three targets – teens, younger parents (whose children would be between 6-11 years) and older parents (whose kids are above 18 years). Again it is not that water-tight, because ordering may be different, when I am the same person walking in a different configuration.

The Happy Meal toys which are given- not only excite kids, but young adults as well, what level of thinking goes behind it?

The movie tie-ups happens globally (probably 2-3 movies in a year), because the supply chain on toys is handled globally. It gets made in one place and then the entire world gets serviced from there. Whenever it is possible, we coincide with the movie and the toy launch together. Or the toy will get by defaulted launched when the movie is planned. We indent the number of toys which we need for our market, based on the kind of popularity it will have. For e.g. we knew Minions will be a huge success, so the indenting on Minions becomes higher than the normal. Otherwise we know usually what the kind of rate is.

What are the challenges and scope in the QSR industry?

Challenges are you are linked with GDP, the macro-economic clearly defines how often people do step out, given the amount of inflation which happened in the last few years;it has definitely impacted the growth momentum. But I guess it is not just the QSR industry, but it is across the category. We are very positive that it is just a cycle and it will definitely turn.

Positives are plenty, the fact that you are able to offer convenience, which is quick, fast, and hygienic, there will always be a massive market for it. In times, which are tough, you may find the frequency reduced but its evergreen-Food is evergreen.

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