Generation Z won't understand McDonald's latest advert

McDonald's has a habit of serving up creative campaign, but many of them have their finger on the pulse of the younger generations – think the Grimace Shake trend. But its latest campaign includes references that only old millennials like myself (and older) will get.

Before the internet, there existed something called teletext. It provided access to all the information we ever thought we would need back in the last century, from news to music reviews and holiday bookings, all at the touch of a TV remote control. And McDonald's is taking us back to those days with its latest ad (see our pick of the best print ads for more inspiration).

The piece is part of a campaign that intends to show how McDonald's has advanced since the 1990s. The headline message is that for 20 years it's been using 100% British and Irish beef. There's some nice attention to detail, from the pixel art hamburger right down to the four coloured quick links at the bottom of the page, which would be activated by the colour buttons on the TV remote control.

By coincidence or not, the release of the advert happily coincided with the UK's National Teletext Day on Saturday – yes, that's actually a thing. Most teletext services continued into the present century, with CNN calling time on its service in 2006 and the BBC terminating Ceefax in 2012. However, many generation Zers won't have used the services since the internet access had already expanded widely by then.

The campaign also includes two 30-second films for TV and VOD shot by Tim Godsall.  Entitled 'Keep Up With The Times’, they also use nostalgia to draw attention to changes McDonald’s has made in how it sources products. An office worker working at a 90s computer handed a McDonald’s breakfast is told that the eggs in McMuffins have been free-range for over 20 years. That convinces him to give the product a go before he sends a fax and pencils in a game of squash.

The videos are supported by 90s-themed posters in physical locations in the UK and a collaboration with The Times to revive old front pages. McDonald's is even reviving its own website from the 90s and will use old trayliners and menu screen takeovers in restaurants. 

The media strategy was designed by OMD and the campaign forms part of the existing 'Change A Little, Change A Lot’ campaign launched. Like the clever recent McDonald's eyebrows ads and minimalist summer billboard, it was created by Leo Burnett.

Executive creative director Mark Elwood said: “McDonald’s are constantly making changes to the way they source their food. Some customers are still stuck in the past in their views of McDonald’s. This campaign aims to change that by using humour and nostalgia as the trojan horse to hopefully help them change their minds." For more McDonald's marketing delights, see our pick of the best McDonald's adverts.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.