McDonald’s chiefs on breaking the silos between marketing and finance

Great creative execution leads to increased brand value, which in turn allows us to invest even more in creativity, said Borden, who then provided concrete evidence to support his claim, citing the significant contribution of marketing to McDonald's top-line results in the US market at a session in Cannes Lions

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McDonald’s chiefs on breaking the silos
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Cannes: At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, a global beacon for advertising excellence, McDonald's served up a masterclass on how to leverage creativity for measurable business results. 

Their session, titled ‘Convince Your C-Suite: The Real Impact of Creativity,’ offered a glimpse into the secret sauce behind the iconic brand's recent marketing success.

Morgan Flatley, McDonald's Global Chief Marketing Officer, took the stage and emphasised the importance of a unified approach within the leadership team. 

“When the C-suite, including the CFO, are all on the same page in terms of marketing goals, metrics, and even language, it makes a huge difference,” Flatley declared.  

She elaborated on the past seven years at McDonald's, where they've meticulously built a foundation of shared understanding. 

“We've spent time establishing these consistent elements to ensure everyone is working towards the same objectives,” she explained. 

This focus on alignment ensures everyone in the C-suite speaks the same “marketing language,” fostering a more cohesive and impactful approach.

Ian Borden, McDonald's Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, shed light on the significant shift in how marketing is perceived within the company. “Marketing used to be a bit of a ‘black box’,” Borden acknowledged. 

“Now, it's a transparent and accountable function.” This transparency, Borden explained, fosters a crucial element for success: trust and open communication between the CFO and CMO. 

“The trust and shared understanding between the CFO and CMO are critical to achieving marketing goals,” he stressed. Borden's statement highlighted the importance of breaking down silos between marketing and finance and fostering a collaborative environment where both sides understand the impact of creative campaigns.

Understanding what makes your customers tick

Flatley delved deeper into a key ingredient for their creative success: a deep understanding of their customers. “By focusing on our fans, we gain a deep understanding of their rituals and routines and what makes them love McDonald's,” she explained. This focus on understanding their fans, as McDonald's refers to their customers, goes beyond simple demographics. 

Flatley elaborated on the concept of “fan truths"—these a are insights gleaned from understanding customer behaviour that become a common language across the organisation. “These 'fan truths' serve as a common language across the organisation,” Flatley noted. This ensures that all marketing efforts resonate with the core audience, creating a sense of connection and brand loyalty.

Interestingly, Flatley challenged a common misconception about clear metrics and creativity. “Clear metrics and KPIs actually help creativity flourish because everyone's aligned on the goals we're trying to achieve,” she clarified. “They liberate, not constrain, creative thinking.” Flatley's statement highlights a crucial point: clear goals provide a framework for creativity, allowing marketing teams to unleash their imagination within a set of parameters that drive measurable results.

Building brand value

Ian Borden emphasised the importance of brand value in today's competitive landscape. “McDonald's consistently ranks among the top five most valuable brands globally,” Borden declared. “Brand value is our competitive moat,” he continued, using a metaphor to illustrate how brand value acts as a barrier to entry for competitors. Borden then explained the virtuous cycle created by strong creative execution. 

“Great creative execution leads to increased brand value, which in turn allows us to invest even more in creativity,” said Borden, who then provided concrete evidence to support his claim, citing the significant contribution of marketing to McDonald's top-line results in the US market.  

He further connected the growth in global system-wide sales over the past five years to the company's commitment to creative excellence. Borden's emphasis on the link between creativity, brand value, and sales underscores the significant financial return on investment (ROI) that effective marketing campaigns can deliver.

Flatley acknowledged the complexities of managing a vast network of stakeholders, particularly franchisees who co-fund marketing efforts. “We have a complex stakeholder network, particularly with our franchisees who co-fund marketing efforts,” she stated. 

Flatley then highlighted the importance of shared metrics and accountability for franchisees. “Shared metrics and accountability are crucial for our franchisees as well,” she stressed. This emphasis on shared goals and accountability ensures that all stakeholders are working in concert to leverage the power of creative marketing for mutual success.

Flatley underscored the need for marketers to possess a unique blend of skills by saying, “Marketers need to possess a unique blend of skills. Marketers need to be both commercially savvy and creatively adept.” This dual focus ensures that marketing efforts are not only imaginative and engaging but also deliver tangible results that contribute to the company's bottom line. 

“We have a unique advantage at McDonald's with our global scale,” she acknowledged. This vast network allows McDonald's to leverage data collection and identify successful creative ideas across different markets. 

She then introduced the concept of “sharing and scaling” successful creative ideas. “We have a concept of ' sharing and scaling' successful creative ideas across different markets.”

Therefore, this collaborative approach allows McDonald's to make a campaign that resonates in one region and adapt it to audiences in other parts of the world. 

brand value C-suite creativity Marketing metrics customers