McDonald’s suffers ‘difficult second album syndrome’ with ‘Raise Your Arches’ follow-up, data finds

‘Next Stop, McDonald’s’, the follow-up to its high-performing ‘Fancy A McDonald’s’ ad, achieves a “good” branding score but falls short of its successor, according to data from System1.

McDonald’s follow-up to its highly acclaimed ‘Raise Your Arches’ campaign, has failed to have the same impact as the original, according to data from System1 shared with Marketing Week.

‘Next Stop, McDonald’s’, by Leo Burnett, achieves a “good” score of 3.1 stars, but it falls short of the “very strong” 4.7 stars ‘Fancy A McDonald’s’ received. It does, however, beat the average for the fast food and coffee shop industry, which is 2.9.

Like the first ad, which launched in January, McDonald’s new spot shows a range of friends, families and a bus full of school kids stuck in traffic who all decide to make a detour to McDonald’s, indicating their plan by raising their eyebrows to the tune of Yello’s Oh Yeah.

The ad scored a fluency rating of 90, which indicates good brand recognition, though it’s lower than the sector average of 94. It also had a spike rating of 1.04 (the average for the sector is 1.28), highlighting a “modest” short-term sales potential, according to System1.

McDonald’s is suffering from “difficult second album syndrome”, says Jon Evans, chief customer officer at System1. This is due to the emotional response audiences have to a traffic-filled ad, compared with the joyfulness of going to McDonald’s on a lunch break, he says.

McDonald’s achieves ‘exceptional’ branding score with eyebrow raising adThe lack of impact is down to “lots of unresolved anger”, Evans says. “We all hate being stuck in traffic on a hot day.”

Plus, while the first ad ends with a “building full of workers joyfully marching to lunchtime freedom”, the latest iteration finishes with “everyone still in their cars”.

“It turns out the promise of a McDonald’s can only get you so far,” he adds.

Evans believes a “different ending” could have led to a better score.

However, the restaurant chain might have been better off not trying to replicate the success of the first ad at all. “Wear-out for ads is a myth, and brands who’ve made an ad as good as Fancy A McDonald’s shouldn’t always feel they have to follow it up so soon,” suggests Evans.

McDonald’s CEO has hailed marketing as a key growth driver for the business, and crucially, a core pillar in its long-term business strategy, ‘Accelerating the Arches’.

The last five years have seen the brand accelerate its marketing efforts to pursue a culture of creative excellence. As Joan Colletta, senior director of marketing transformation told Marketing Week in June: “We now know without a doubt that when we invest in work that builds our brand it builds 1.5 times higher ROI in the near term as any other type of work.”

The original ad, which was directed by Egdar Wright, was rolled out to 30 other markets after launching in the UK. It’s unclear yet what impact the new ad will have, and whether different versions will be rolled out in other markets.

Evans adds, the latest ad is “by no means a bad commercial, but it’s not doing anything its predecessor didn’t do better, so why not just run that again?”