Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards
Your Shot: Advertising with an Aussie Accent
Advertising Agency
Sydney, Australia
McDonald’s – or should we say Macca’s? – are getting local with the ‘Strayan’ campaign, DDB Sydney ECD Tara Ford tells LBB’s Laura Swinton
McDonald’s teams around the world have been something of a roll when it comes to its outdoor creative over the past few months – clean clever design communicating simple ideas that, nonetheless, require a few seconds of thinking time to puzzle out. And, while leveraging the McDonald brand colours, typeface and other assets, each execution and idea speaks to the local market, its culture. 

And that’s just as true for the work coming from the land down under. Recently, DDB Sydney launched a pair of outdoor campaigns that speak directly to Aussie culture. One reimagines the iconic Golden Arches as part of the Antipodean summer, integrating them into snorkels and thongs (that’s, err, flip-flops for non-Australians). The other takes the staples of the McDonald’s menu and re-names them to better reflect the local vernacular. So the Filet-o-Fish becomes the Filadafish. The latte become Lar Tey. And – in our favourite execution (yes we’ve been reading this out repeatedly in our finest Aussie accents in the office), the Quarter Pounder is the Kworda Pownda.

Despite being one of the most American brands you can imagine, McDonald’s has long leaned into the Australian culture in its local advertising. But balancing the consistency of brand voice with culturally relevant work can be tricky. LBB’s Laura Swinton spoke to DDB Sydney’s Tara Ford to find out more.

LBB> What was the brief from Maccas ahead of this campaign?

Tara> The work came from a broader brief for McDonald’s over the Australian Summer, which is a quintessentially Aussie time of year. A major Australian public holiday that falls at the end of the summer felt like the perfect time to acknowledge how Australians have made McDonald’s their own.

LBB> Why at this time in particular did it make sense for the brand to lean into its resonance with local culture and how it has been adopted and adapted by Australians rather than, say, big up its American-ness?

Tara> In the past McDonald’s has resonated with Australians by changing their store signs to Macca’s, proudly taking on the name Aussies had affectionately given the brand. They’re proud of their heritage here and continue to embrace Aussie culture.

LBB> How did you go about refining and choosing which phrases to use? 

Tara> It all started with the classic menu items and how Aussies sound ordering them. Then we spelt it out as it sounds phonetically using a broad Australian accent. The winners also had to look arresting and different from the real words without spelling out anything familiar that might throw people off. The final words appeared most different typographically to the traditional spelling and rewarding once read aloud.

LBB> And how tricky was it to strike that balance between choosing executions that were clever and those that were easy for people to understand (as I guess it’s the sort of thing that might take people a couple of seconds to mentally parse?) And what role did the typography and art direction play in ensuring that clarity?

Tara> The best executions were intended to take the consumer a couple of seconds to work out. The words had to look different enough that people wouldn’t think it was a simple spelling error. The spelling also couldn’t look like other words that would take the viewer somewhere else. The winners struck just the right balance.

It’s all about the words so the art direction was kept simple and on-brand with just a little wink in the end line, changing it to: ‘I’m lovin’ Strayan’. With the headline, logo and tagline working together to give meaning nothing else could get in the way. The look had to be simple, especially on a poster.

LBB> Were there any faves that didn’t make the cut?

Tara> Strorbry Sundy.
Arfa Duzen Nuggits… to name a couple.

LBB> When you've got a global brand like McDonald's, what's the key to creating local campaigns that feel authentically part of the local culture rather than awkward?

Tara> Having a tight team of client and agency people who genuinely love and understand both the brand and local Aussie culture.

LBB> This was an outdoor execution - why did that work so well as medium - and is there potential to take it to other media and platforms?

Tara> This idea at its heart is outdoor. Its boldness and simplicity made it perfect for this medium. Having a poster out for all to see with a headline that appears misspelled from a big corporation is always a bit of playful fun.

LBB> What has the response been like from the public?
Tara> People have seemed to enjoy them. Comments range from “dumb and fun” to “smart”. Others questioned if it’s more Kiwi than Aussie. Either way, people are talking about us and giving it time, which always a good sign.
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