Missed Opportunities And McDonald’s

Oh, French Fries!

I ventured to an actual store last week. And while I was sitting in the customer service line, I noticed a kid standing to my side rambling about something.

He was all of 3 years old and was pulling umbrellas out of the impulse buy rack.

I noticed it wasn’t sturdy so I pulled up about an inch and blocked the leg of the stand with my wheelchair’s footrest. (That way if the rack decided to have a great fall, it would land on me AND the kid wouldn’t be broken like Humpty Dumpty.)

That’s when it hit me…

This kid might have been rearranging the impulse buy rack, but he was talking to me the whole time.

“You’ve got big wheels. Why do you have big wheels? Why do you have big wheels on the back but not on the front? What do those big wheels do? You basically have a race car, you know? Like a big race car, that goes fast. Does your race car go fast?”

I laughed and told him that my wheelchair is exactly like a race car and goes really fast so that I can keep up with my niece and nephew.

He kept on talking, and I did my best to answer every question. But after a few minutes, his mom pulled him away from the rack, apologized for his interrogation, and they left the store.

He was craving connection. And I didn’t mind being that for him.

A few minutes later, it dawned on me that I should have offered him a ride on my wheelchair. (I tote kids around on the back of my chair all. the. time.)

Talk about a missed opportunity.

You know what’s another missed opportunity? Not using the words your readers use.

Those words? Slang, baby.

The Oxford University Press hates slang.

“Slang is a type of language used by a particular group of people – e.g. teenagers – or by people in a particular occupation – e.g. members of the army. It can act as a kind of code: using slang creates a sense of identity or belonging among members of the group and effectively excludes outsiders. It’s better to avoid using this sort of language in general contexts as people outside the group in question may not understand it, or may well interpret it wrongly.”

But I’m lovin’ it. (ba da ba ba ba)

Why? Because copywriting’s job is to connect with readers. (Be that connection, Obi-Wan.)

To do this, you have to write in the same language. You have to use words and phrases your readers use.

And doing this works…

McDonald’s proved it with its 2003 jingle, “I’m lovin’ it.” (Bonus points – it’s also grammatically incorrect, which warms my grumpy heart.)

Even though this jingle is slang and grammatically incorrect, it’s still McDonald’s most successful ad campaign. The fast food company spent $1.37 billion on advertising in 2003. However, in the first quarter of 2004 alone, its revenue increased by $455 million.

McDonald’s held a competition among 14 international ad agencies to create the jingle. The competition featured some of the industry’s largest companies. The winner (Heye & Partner) was actually a “tiny” company compared to the others.

But what flips my burger is the fact that McDonald’s held a competition and paid an ad agency to come up with something so simple.

And Heye & Partner doubled cheeseburger down on their win – They hired Pharrell Williams and turned “I’m lovin’ it” into a full-fledged song. They commissioned Justin Timberlake to sing it, and it was released a few months before the ad campaign. This boosted the credibility of a McDonald’s jingle because it was in pop culture form.

Slang and pop culture go well together. And immortalize almost everything they touch.

So ask yourself, do your readers use slang AND would slang be appropriate & entertaining to your readers?

The answer is… hellz yeah.

P.S. Ginger wants to know where those French Fries are.