A Q&A on McDonald’s Employer Brand Building with Megan Gaffney, VP, Consumer Team
Give us the 10,000-foot view of the campaign.
Megan: We’ve supported the McDonald’s of New England program for over 10 years. It’s hyper-regional and a huge part of our work is employer brand, so promoting McDonald’s as a great place to work and highlighting the people that make the brand all that it is.
This integrated campaign was specifically designed to drive new talent and brand trust. We took a great human interest storytelling moment via earned media highlighting this amazing restaurant manager Andrea, or “Mama McDonald’s,” and all she does to personally help crew members. We extended it via paid, shared and owned channels, including using influencer engagement where social influencers actually came into the restaurant and became a crew member for the day to see firsthand the career opportunities at McDonald’s. Together, it really enhanced the employer narrative and brand image in the region.
What was the special sauce in this campaign?
Megan: These kinds of first-person experiences are very powerful because they unlock the critical emotions that help deepen the connections between consumers and a brand. Now more than ever all of us — consumers, the news media — are looking for these feel-good stories that deliver joy and relevancy. It was special because we were able to capture all that is so great about these stories of real-life people and bridge them with the brand to create this personal campaign that then reached far and wide because we were firing on all channels.
Was there an aha moment that sparked the concept and strategy?
Megan: We’ve always had an always-on approach to people storytelling for McDonald’s. There are so many amazing people that work in those restaurants, so being able to uncover and tell those stories is a core part of what we do. But our real starting point for this campaign was the knowledge that employer brand messaging can be really difficult to get across in a traditional advertising or even earned channel. So, we challenged ourselves to create new ways to bring it to life. We thought, “what if we put influencers behind the counter and really show them why people should work at McDonald’s” to have them help validate McDonald’s as an employer in a relatable way to their audience.
I don’t think many people are pairing influencers with employer branding and it was a new strategy for us, but ultimately it performed really well.
Were there any risks or concerns about this campaign?
Megan: There are always considerations with influencers and in bringing anybody into the restaurants. We had never put partners behind the counter, so it was a test and learn experience. There was tons of operational and logistical planning with our owner operator clients and crew members. I’m talking months and thinking about every safeguard. What was also key was working with influencer partners that really are authentic to the brand and hold the same values.
The “test and learn” was one of the fun things about this campaign and what we do in general as PR professionals. As consumers, we’re now on so many channels, so being able to trial new things that they may not have seen before or what we thought may not have excited them before is a critical PR mindset today.
What was the impact for the business?
Megan: The Mama McDonald’s story is so special. We ended up getting a groundswell of Boston media coverage. Then CBS News got wind of it and filmed this huge segment, so we got national awareness. The social engagement for that is off the charts with around 5,000,000 video views and 15,000 video shares plus thousands of positive comments.
The “Crew Member for A Day” influencer program honestly surprised all of us a bit. We ended up driving 20,000 local New Englanders to the McDonald’s hiring page, where they were able to check out openings and learn about the benefits we had been showcasing. It really showed the power these partners can play when brands put them at the center of their campaigns to create true ambassadors.
We are also lucky that we have a very strong and highly integrated agency team with our ad partners and our paid partners. We had their support in making sure everything was maximized to drive this incredible engagement and because we saw so much success, we’ve already trialed another campaign like it.
@everydaymaggie #ad I’ve always wondered what it was like to work @mcdonalds…😅🍟 #mcdonaldscareer #mcdonalds #fyp #boston #PepsiApplePieChallenge ♬ FEEL THE GROOVE – Queens Road, Fabian Graetz
Working at @McDonalds was truly a dream come true! I had the opportunity to go behind the counter as a “Crew Member For A Day” and learn all about their amazing team and career growth opportunities. From flexible schedules to tuition assistance to professional development, Mickey D’s is a great place to work for full or part-time opportunities, seasonal jobs or to kickstart your career in the hospitality industry! Want to join the crew? Visit McDonalds.com/careers to learn more and apply to a restaurant near you, or text ‘apply’ to 38000 to start an application via text♬ LITTLE MO’ BETTA – David Davis
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