McDonald's ditches its brand in new type-only ads

McDonald's type-based billboards
(Image credit: McDonald's/Leo Burnett London)

You might have thought that a brand as strong as McDonald's relies on its most famous elements – the big 'M' and bright yellow and red hues – being present, but apparently, you'd be wrong. The fast food chain's latest ads consist solely of a list of ingredients that make up its most popular offerings: "muffin, egg, sausage, cheese, muffin", for example. Or "bun, beef, gherkin, lettuce, sauce, bun, beef, cheese, lettuce, sauce, bun". The words might be in the colour of the ingredients, but there's no branding to speak of – no logo, no tagline, not even McDonald's' custom typeface. Intrigued? We thought so.

It's a risky strategy, but we bet it'll pay off; McDonald's has always been good at marketing. We've included plenty of its adverts in our best billboard ads (opens in new tab) roundup, and the chain does have form when it comes to running ads that deliberately mix up or adapt its famous golden arches. Remember those blurry ads (opens in new tab) it ran last year?

This time, McDonald's has taken things a step further. Agency Leo Burnett London (opens in new tab) and designer David Schwen (opens in new tab) are behind the ads, which are a play on a project named Type Sandwiches (opens in new tab) that Schwen created in the early 2010s. The project listed the ingredients of sandwiches in basically the same way as these new ads. They even both use Helvetica, instead of McDonald's custom typeface, Speedee.

McDonald's type-based billboards

Was that a Big Mac you wanted? (Image credit: McDonald's/Leo Burnett London)

What's interesting about these ads is that they could arguably be describing just about any burger or muffin, but somehow, we know these ingredients and these ads belong to McDonald's. Or we can at least guess they're from some super-brand, and not just a small burger company that hasn't decided on its logo yet.

McDonald's type-based billboards

Okay, we're hungry now (Image credit: McDonald's/Leo Burnett London)

While this is a bold move for McDonald's, we have to admit, its simplicity and sheer audacity kind of works. Plus, if anyone can pull off listing its ingredients on a poster without saying who they are, it's the biggest fast food chain on the planet. What more can we say? We're lovin' it.

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Rosie Hilder is Creative Bloq's Deputy Editor. After beginning her career in journalism in Argentina – where her blogging prowess led her to become Deputy Editor of Time Out Buenos Aires – she moved back to the UK and joined Future Plc in 2016. Since then, she's worked as Operations Editor on art and design magazines, including Computer Arts, 3D World and Paint & Draw, and got the 'Apple bug' when working on US title, Mac|Life. In 2018, she left the world of print behind and moved to Creative Bloq, where she helps take care of the daily management of the site, including growing the site's reach through trying to please the Google Gods, getting involved in events, such as judging the Brand Impact Awards, and helping make sure its content serves its readers as best it can. Her interests lie in branding and illustration, tech and sexism, and plenty more in-between.