Keynote presentation with Antoinette Benoit, SVP and CMO of McDonald’s Canada


Live note taking at #MRIA16 in Montreal. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.

  • Being a learning company
  • Only way to become a meaningful brand
  • 90% of brands could disappear because people do not care about them, that’s why you need to be a learning company
  • They understand the need to keep learning
  • People were not happy that she worked with McDonald’s, they didn’t think it was a good company
  • Why do people attack McDonald’s, why do people misunderstand the company
  • They don’t want to be junk food, they want to be a beautiful restaurant, like what they’d have at home
  • Some people didn’t like it because they didn’t recognize it without balloons and plastic decorations
  • Evolved from fry hamburger Coke trinity to a larger offering with salad, fruit, new bread
  • Try to explain that fries are real potatoes because people just didn’t believe it, just just have huge scale so they need to use factories
  • They had to learn how to talk about creating their food
  • They needed to understand the local culture of France to make all the changes work
  • They never explained their company properly so of course people misunderstood them
  • Need to use a common language with a global brand
  • From fast food to good food fast is an extension of what France initiatives in the 90s,  a vision that every country initiated in their own way
  • McBaguette was a local offering [that made me giggle]
  • Each country needed their own consumer research to see what would resonate in Austria, Germany, Sweden, and elsewhere
  • It remains an American brand affected by American politics and country specific challenges
  • Shared 20 insight tools with at least 10 companies – engagement process, corporate barometer, qualitative brand audit, price sensitivity
  • Used the tools to speak the same language and have a high tech understanding of the countries and what might work in one but not in the other
  • We relentlessly learn how to learn, not everyone has the same attitude towards learning, need people who are not afraid of change, it’s second nature for some people
  • Canada is the second lead international market after Australia (USA is the lead national market)
  • 85% of sourcing in Canada is Canadian (we can’t produce enough salad all year round), 23000 families use Ronald McDonald House in Canada
  • We can’t be seen as Canadian but we should be seen as part of the Canadian world
  • More consumer led now as opposed to operationally possible
  • They were called consumer and business insights and these groups were separate, but now they are combining them
  • We’re not always great partners but they are working on that
  • Changed their name to strategy and insights to show where they want to go and the role they want to play
  • They post test every piece of creative from Canada and globally, 3 hours focus groups that really surprise the moderators including money earned and lost
  • Need to understand totality of consumer lives not just when they’re in the restaurant
  • They go beyond product testing, to include understanding eating habits in Canada and how to adapt to those, what do they eat in home versus out of home, what the segments beyond just demographics
  • Brands have personality, consumers know what the are functionally but not who they are in their heart
  • Need to have a consistent voice about who they are
  • Nielsen nicely packages data for most thing but in McDonald’s they have a big mess of data that needs to be crafted into something that tells a story, gets to the insight that seasoned researchers and newbies can understand
  • You can’t cheat when you’ve got data in front of you

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