Alaska McDonald's Locally Owned and Operated Cup

Showing Local Roots

For decades, McDonald’s has been the overwhelming quick-serve restaurant market leader in Alaska. But two recent trends were putting pressure on the longtime favorite: First, new restaurants were entering the market, increasing competition. And second, a gloomy economic outlook was reducing Alaskans’ enthusiasm and budgets for dining out.

Both developments sparked a desire in fiercely loyal Alaskans to choose local dining options. And although every Alaska McDonald’s restaurant was locally owned and operated, Spawn Ideas’ social listening and research revealed that that McDonald’s was seen as a corporate entity – particularly among millennial women, who make most family dining decisions.

Our challenge was to communicate that McDonald’s restaurants are in fact, local, and, just as important, they’re small businesses employing Alaskans and helping to fuel local economies and communities.

Alaska McDonald's Image with Sunset

Start with the Big Picture(s)

Alaskans know a thing or two about misconceptions (many of us are still asked if we ride dogsleds to work or if we can see Russia from our houses). So, here at Spawn Ideas, we knew that if we could bust the just a big business myth, we would win Alaskans’ hearts.

We started by developing a local Golden Arches logo treatment that featured an outline of the state. And we used that Alaska-focused treatment in nearly all touchpoints: in merchandising, on television and radio ads, on social media channels and at local events sponsored by Alaska McDonald’s.

We also updated the artwork and imagery for a unique, local menu item: The beloved Denali Mac. This iconic burger, which features two Quarter Pounder patties, is named after one of Alaska’s most famous landmarks (also North America’s highest peak).

These locally oriented visuals were designed to convey the restaurants’ Alaska status in a quick and intuitive way.

Alaska McDonald's Locally Owned and Operated Go Nanooks Sign
Alaska McDonald's Locally Owned and Operated Girl Opening Happy Meal
Alaska McDonald's Locally Owned and Operated Donation

Tell the Whole Story

Next, we launched a local ownership campaign. It was designed to reveal the restaurants’ local ties by featuring local McDonald’s owners and proud employees. It also prominently highlighted those franchises’ sponsorships of local teams and events.

Seeing hometown teams like Alaska’s Nanooks, Seawolves, and Oilers, supported by McDonald’s employees – who also happen to be neighbors – created a spark of instant recognition for an Alaskan audience. It also told a broader story in seconds: Locally owned Alaska McDonald’s keep money in the community, creating jobs and improving the quality of life for Alaskans every day.

This made it easier for people who might previously have felt guilty about buying from outsiders to understand that McDonald’s was a pro-Alaska choice after all.

A Key Turnaround

The launch of this advertising inspired McDonald’s crew teams and livened up store environments. And customers responded too, with sales and guest counts showing positive growth following the launch, which proves that impressions can be shifted quickly.

This campaign also won an AIGA Alaska Chapter The Big One Silver Award for Logo and Brand Identity.

Alaska McDonald's Locally Owned and Operated Tray
Alaska McDonald's Locally Owned and Operated Cups
Alaska McDonald's Locally Owned and Operated Gift Cards
Alaska McDonald's Locally Owned and Operated
award trophy

AIGA Alaska Chapter The Big One

Silver Award

Logo and Identity System