For the past two weeks nothing has occupied my mind as fixedly as the McDonald's Monopoly TV adverts.

The burger giant has generated an incredible amount of word-of-mouth in the UK simply by creating a rather confused, social TV campaign.

Why? And what, if anything, can we learn from it?

A renaissance for bad ads?

If we're honest, bad TV commercials are not rare things. Even so, the past six months has felt like a pretty lofty watermark.

Tesco's return to big marketing spend with its 'wacky-family' adverts was a classic example of humour gone wrong. Many questioned whether the Tesco brand was right to go for funny in the first place.

Hot on its heels this year has been GoCompare's genius (in my eyes), with its iteration of the 'one annoying, repetitive catchphrase' model for price comparison websites.

Yep, GoCompare now has 100% more annoying catchphrases, thanks to a peppering of the word 'fantastic'.

However, McDonald's hasn't achieved the so-bad-it's-good status by design (like GoCompare) or through bad script and direction (Tesco) but through a confused multichannel interactive promotion.

Here's what McDonald's failed to do...

Focus on one message

The point of these adverts is to tell people that Monopoly is back at McDonald's and you can win cash online or food prizes in restaurants (as well as bigger prizes like a MINI).

However, this message is crammed into the first part of the advert, followed by a second message - choose what mild peril the presenter will encounter in the next advert.

The problem is that due to time constraints, both messages get crammed in.

Those new to Monopoly at McDonald's get a brief and unsatisfactory introduction to the competition. And then for anyone that wants to vote for the next advert, the instructions flash by too quickly.

Watch the ad below and see if you agree with the following points:

  • 6 seconds: The presenter reels off what you can win, without pausing between prizes to allow the customer to digest the messaging (no pun intended).
  • 15 seconds: The choices of peril for the next advert get around 3.5 seconds each. Without repeat viewing, the camera pan makes it difficult to notice the voting tags in boxes above the cars.

Understand the dynamics of interaction

The presenter of this ad (Gemita Samarra - a stuntman and model who has worked on Bond and Game of Thrones amongst others) has received some criticism online.

However, it's not really her fault. She has to rattle off a confused script.

A bigger problem with her casting is that waching people in mild peril is only interesting if we know who that person is.

For example, if we could vote what dangerous activity Noel Edmonds would do next, I'm sure plenty would be voting. We simply don't have the emotional bond with Gemita Samarra.

Understand commercialism & social media

In principle, the concept of the Twitter voting is sound. Even if users don't vote en masse, there are always super fans who will take part and help to spread the impact of a TV ad on social media.

However, a brand has to play by the rules of social if it wants organic engagement.

The voting system here (e.g. tweet MINI 3-Door to @McdonaldsUK to see Gemita standing on a car on two wheels) is overly commercial and doesn't play to the fun nature of the competition.

A MINI model name is pretty much irrelevant to the stunt voted for.

One of the choices is to watch the stuntman on top of a car performing donuts. So, why implore users to vote 'MINI Clubman' instead of 'donuts'?

If ideas are going to get traction on Twitter, they cannot be forced.

Keep it simple stupid (KISS)

'KISS' is the overriding feeling when watching these adverts (for those unfamiliar, this is merely the first in a series of commercials).

The set is distracting, the voting system too wordy, the script waffly, the presenter distracting; even the McDonald's whistle at the end jars, feeling tacked on and confused.

McDonald's has been lucky with this campaign. I firmly believe in no such thing as bad publicity when it comes to TV adverts.

The fast food restaurant's confused creative has led to lots and lots of Monopoly chatter, leaving me in no doubt about what competition is currently running at my local Golden Arches.

For more on TV and social, see the following articles:

Ben Davis

Published 11 April, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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