November 29, 2022

Outdoor Ads: Long-Standing McDonald’s Special

By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.
Now that it’s time to deal with that overly dry turkey that’s still sitting all lonely like in a corner of your refrigerator, you’re probably getting that urge that tugs at many consumers once Thanksgiving has opened the holiday season.

You want to go cruising for a burger.

First thoughts may turn to finding the nearest golden arches of McDonald’s, whose iconic, red-and-yellow signage has been with the hamburger chain since its start. Further luring you on your burger-cruising route may be a billboard that highlights one of the latest “Mickey D’s” specials.

Store signage and billboards, both of which are examples of out-of-home (OOH) advertising, continue to be key components of the McDonald’s ad budget. The burger giant was the top OOH ad spender in 2021 with an investment of $65 million, according to data from the Out of Home Advertising Association of America and Kantar Media.

What’s more, the restaurant chain was among the nation’s top 20 radio advertisers the first half of this year, ranked ninth by Media Monitors, which tracks AM/FM stations and their ad spots across 100 markets in the U.S. The only other restaurant chain in the radio top 20 was Wendy’s at 14th.

Radio ad spots, obviously, are an important OOH tool if you’re wanting to reach people who are out cruising for a burger.

What Is OOH Advertising?

The Out of Home Advertising Association of America defines OOH media as including billboards, street furniture (think bus-stop benches), transit (think airports, train stations and cars traversing the nation’s highways and interstates), place-based media (malls) and digital formats (your smartphone).

McDonald’s has upped the OOH game in recent years with digital billboards, including one that features an Egg McMuffin brilliantly rising with the sun, as well as highway exit signs that use parts of the golden arches to let travelers know whether they should take a right or left ahead, as this brief YouTube video shows.

Outdoor ads with calls for action on how to get to the nearest restaurant long have been used by McDonald’s and others, including gas stations, that advertise along the nation’s highways. Digitalized versions, such as the Egg McMuffin rising with the sun, are beginning to proliferate.

Waze Partnership Another Mickey D’s Game Changer

Further enticing burger-craving road warriors has been a McDonald’s partnership with Waze, the navigation app that’s popular with commuters and trip takers. When Wazers, as they’re called, would approach a McDonald’s billboard, a “Takeover” ad popped up on their app with directions to the nearest restaurant.

Better yet, the Waze ads have promoted limited-time Dollar Menu deals, the return of the McRib and the latest in breakfast deals, all of which Wazers could use once they followed the app’s directions and arrived at the restaurant.

McDonald’s reportedly recorded 8,400 navigations to its locations in just eight weeks as part of the Waze partnership.

The ad campaign impressed Ryan Laul, president of the Outdoor Media Group.

“Integrating the targeting technology of Waze with McDonald’s billboard locations harnessed the power of combining out-of-home and mobile media to enhance engagement with the consumer,” he says, also “providing metrics of success and attribution — something with which out-of-home has grappled for years.”

Better yet, it also has made cruising for a burger easier and adventurous.

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