McDonald’s UK tackles the great ad taboo – doing something on your own

Well how often do you see some lonely character going for meal on his own?

Advertisers learned long ago that showing individuals doing individual things invited disaster, that’s why whenever you see a woman in a kitchen she’s always has a winsome child or a friend, or possibly both, to reassure the audience she isn’t waiting for the pizza man of legend.

But McDonald’s UK and agency Leo Burnett have tackled this head-on with a minute’s worth of happy guy on his own.

It’s reminiscent of the wonderful DDB London Passat ad of a few years ago (and none the worse for that) which went a stage further with a newly-redundant hero.

One of the similarities is the use of terrific old tunes, in the case of McDonald’s ‘The street where you live’ by Lerner and Loewe from My Fair Lady and DDB’s brilliant resurrection of ‘Positive thinking’ from the Morecambe and Wise Show, which you wouldn’t expect to be up there with L&L.

Here’s the original L&L tune from My Fair Lady (film’s a bit dark but it sounds OK).

They do say that this lonely person injunction stemmed from the big budget launch of Wills’ Strand cigarettes (by Ogilvy I think) in 1959 which featured a Philip Marlowe-esque dude having a moody fag on his own. Lots of people loved the ad and many of them bought the record but, alas, not the gaspers.

Here’s a YouTube compilation of bits of it with some stuff on beaming Cliff Adams, the bandleader who wrote the tune and had a big hit with it.

Well there you go. So quite brave of McDonald’s and Leo Burnett.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.