There’s a reason your slightly hungover stomach knows exactly what to do when it sees those golden arches: it’s called marketing.

Fast food might be partly responsible for an epidemic of people who can’t fit into plane seats, but we’re not here to debate the morality of peddling cheap and somewhat deadly food to a nation of easily influenced consumers. We're here to talk about content.

Fast food brands really know their customers, so I thought it would be good to look at some of the best examples of content marketing in this industry to see if I could learn anything. 

McDonald's

In this clip, annoying yodeller Jessie J rides around London on a double decker McDonald’s branded bus while singing one of her hits.

Anyone who’s not too young will remember the days when McDonald’s was all about cartoon characters like Ronald and the Hamburglar. You know, before it tried to turn ‘cool’.

This video reflects that new image and also provides a nice bit of experiential marketing in the process.

McDonald’s has also nailed Instagram with its use of simple, colourful imagery.

The next clip is a little bit more low-key, but still deserves a mention.

As I said above, these brands know their customers. McDonald's proved this by releasing a number of videos showing people exactly how its products are made.

The reason this is a great piece of content marketing is that it takes the biggest fear that people have about McDonalds’ products and turns it on its head.

KFC

I mentioned KFC in my branded Instagram videos round-up at the end of last month because of its bizarre yet entirely entertaining post-apocalyptic colonel clip.

Here’s the clip again in case you missed it:

KFC instagram

KFC’s Instagram feed is brilliant because it plays upon the nostalgia element but with a good dose of humour thrown in.

Subway

Subway’s ‘Out to Lunch’ series on YouTube is a collection of 30-second comedy sketches based around a group of office workers.

The videos ended up being quite popular and by creating a series with a set of characters, Subway encouraged people to keep returning to its YouTube channel.

Starbucks

Starbucks has mastered the art of marketing that isn’t actually marketing. Or at least that’s what they want you to think.

By doing something as simple as writing people’s names on their coffee cups, Starbucks has its brand plastered all over social media. For the cost of a few felt tip pens.

@Starbucks happiness is my daughter getting a cup with her name on!! It's the small things. pic.twitter.com/Vi0Dgu2aGp

— Veronica Walls (@littlev73) July 26, 2015

I’m pretty convinced it spells people’s names wrong on purpose, too. Because free publicity.

Burger King

Burger King created a nice piece of emotional video content here. They took five Big Mac obsessives, all of whom had the signature McDonald’s burger tattooed on them, and flew them to Brazil to take a taste test.

Having somewhat suspiciously convinced all five that the Big King is indeed a superior sandwich, celebrity tattoo artist Ami James appears.

He offers to touch up their Big Mac tattoos to make them look flame grilled like the Big King, and most of them take him up on it.

Domino's Pizza

Domino's Pizza’s marketing efforts deserve some attention, so I’m going to give a few examples here.

Firstly let’s look at the most popular video on its YouTube channel: a clip of the ‘Domicopter’.

Dominos announced that it was going to start delivering pizzas via drone (hence: Domicopter), and this is the accompanying promotional video.

The clip got massive coverage across mainstream and social media.

I also really like Domino's ‘Pizza Legends’ site. The site lets you create your own pizza and then it generates a unique animation based on your choices.

You can either share the resulting video on social media or just do the right thing and buy it.

Here’s one of the videos it made promoting the campaign, which probably explains it better than I just have:

Domino's also makes good use of Vine, particularly when it comes to its interactive loops like the one below. As you can see these create decent engagement on Twitter as well. 

Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts creates a lot of paid content with publishers like Buzzfeed, like the example below in which Californians try Dunkin’ Donuts for the first time.

This clip also works as a form of social proof. Given the size of the queue in the video you’d think every man, woman and child in California was desperate to get their chops around a Dunkin’.

Dunkin’ Donuts has also had a lot of success with ‘bite-sized’ video content in the form of 15-30-second YouTube clips, such as its ‘That feeling when…’ series.

Or this clip promoting its iced coffees:

All of Dunkin’ Donuts’ video content seems to reflect the fact that it wants to be seen as a ‘fun’ brand, which is something of a theme among fast food companies.

Conclusion: the content has to reflect the brand

There are some creative examples to take away here of consumer-focused content marketing, particularly when it comes to creating videos that get shared.

The key thing to note here is that all of these companies have very strong brands to which the content they publish is strongly tied.

Check these posts out for more industry-specific content marketing examples: 

10 inspiring content marketing examples from charities

15+ examples of effective content marketing from healthcare brands

Jack Simpson

Published 5 August, 2015 by Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (5)

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Len Diamond, Principal / Writer at Len Diamond Technical/Marketing Communications

Do people really says things like " @Starbucks happiness is my daughter getting a cup with her name on!!"?

over 2 years ago

Frank Welsch-Lehmann

Frank Welsch-Lehmann, Digital Marketing Consultant at Welsch-Lehmann COMMUNICATION

Nice examples, but I would call all of this "advertising" (maybe with the example of the McD video). It seems to me that today every piece of video needs to be called "content marketing" to appear relevant.

over 2 years ago

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Zoe Hart, Founder at www.TheLittlePancakeCompany.com

Some great examples of content but an obstacle for small brands like ours (even with great content) remains discoverability. None of these pieces of content would have got us the 22,000 likes that McDonald's get using just the hashtag #summer.

over 2 years ago

Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson, Writer at Econsultancy, Centaur Marketing

@Frank - They are not the same thing. There is one key difference for a start: advertising requires the brand to pay a sum of money to get in front of an audience, whether it's TV, online banner ads, or posters on the tube. The examples I outlined above are all self-hosted by the brands themselves and 'marketed' via social media and other channels.

Content marketing, unlike advertising, does not have a guaranteed audience, which is why you tend to see better creativity (in my opinion) with smaller budgets.

over 2 years ago

Jack Simpson

Jack Simpson, Writer at Econsultancy, Centaur Marketing

@Zoe - True, it's harder to get your content noticed when you only have a small audience in the first place. You could try approaching people/brands who already have an established fan base in your industry and asking them to share it.

over 2 years ago

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