Change was afoot

For decades, McDonald’s has been the overwhelming market leader of quick-serve restaurants in Alaska. However, growing competition, a rare population decline and gloomy economic forecast were contributing to making nervous Alaskans spend less. What’s more, fiercely loyal Alaskans liked to support local businesses, so when they became choosier on where to spend limited dollars, they might not look to McDonald’s first. And though every Alaska McDonald’s restaurant was locally owned and operated, it’s seen as a corporate entity. Our challenge was to communicate that the restaurants were (and are) in fact, local small businesses employing Alaskans and helping fuel the local community and economy.

Myths Lingered

Alaskans battle others’ preconceived notions and myths about the state almost daily, fielding the same old questions that suggest they take dogsleds to work and can see Russia from their backyards.

Similarly, Alaskans and others responded to the myth of McDonald’s, seen simply as a big, static company and dead end in gastronomical terms and employment. Yet locally owned Alaska McDonald’s and its employees were progressive and diverse, with menu items designed to meet both changing and traditional consumer tastes. It was time to right these imaginary wrongs.

Getting on the right side of messaging

Our challenge was to break through to the myth-believers we call ‘right-siders’: the people who socially want to be on the right side of everything. They’re often first in line when the new Olive Garden or Nordstrom Rack opens to satisfy their craving for “Outside” restaurants and shops. Yet, at the same time, they say they want to support local businesses.

What these “right-siders” didn’t realize is that they were on the wrong side about Alaska McDonald’s. The real “right side” can support locally-owned McDonald’s, where it’s not wrong to work in fast food and where managers and crews are doing good for the community and the people in it. Locally owned Alaska McDonald’s kept money in the community, created jobs and cared about its employees beyond their employee number and payroll cost.

Making McDonald's Alaskan

The way to sustain and strengthen Alaska McDonald’s position as the dominant market leader was to leverage right-siders’ need to support the local guy. We emphasized local starting with a local Golden Arches logo treatment that highlighted the State and blanketed in-store packaging and merchandising, television, radio, social media and local events sponsored by Alaska McDonald’s. At the same time, we freshened up imagery around our most tangible proof point about local McDonald’s, Alaska’s own “Denali Mac,” a big, delicious burger named after North America’s largest peak. Finally, using these assets, we developed a local ownership campaign featuring the local owners, proud employees and sponsorships of local teams and events.

Positive Growth Results

The launch of this advertising inspired McDonald’s crew teams and livened up store environments. And customers responded. Local McDonald’s prevailed, with sales and guest counts showing positive growth since the launch.

AIGA Alaska Chapter The Big One

Silver Award

Logo and Identity System