McDonald’s, “You deserve a break today”, 1971

In the early '70s, McDonald's was looking for a new company to head their next campaign. Needham, Harper & Steers impressed McDonald's through the marrying of their various audiences -- mothers, fathers and kids -- with the singular idea of "getting away." Setting to work, the creative team decided on a spot where McDonald's stores, being isolated, lit locales in a city scape, represented islands that families could get away to from their daily routines.

After shooting the spot, NHS ran into a snag with their "McDonald's as islands" themed campaign. Lawyers found that a food chain in Nebraska was already using a campaign labeling themselves as "Islands of Pleasure." Not wanting to paint a target on themselves for lawsuits, McDonald's requested the nearly-complete campaign be dumped. The NHS creative team went back to the drawing board.

They decided to create a song-and-dance routine. After it was written, they brought it to the executives to listen to, who loved it, but felt it was lacking, especially around the ending line "We're so near yet far away." So, again the creative team took the song back to tweak it. The team sat in a room and hammered out the line "You deserve a break today," in a very create-by-committee fashion. And in one more interesting hurdle, the musicians behind the actual performance of the song deemed the line "un-singable." With little more than a "do it or we'll find someone who can," the music team figured out how to sing it, and the rest is history.

The basic premise of the ad campaign was to let people take a break from their routine. Whether people had a busy day at work or a test that they had stressed on for a long time, McDonald’s basically wanted consumers to visit them because they deserved the break. This old school jingle ran only for 4 years but it was one of the most successful McDonald’s campaign. In fact, it was so famous that you can still see references to the tagline.

Check out the 1971 version here:

And a peppier version here:



Hope you enjoy reading and watching this. I will keep writing and sharing old ad campaigns that broke the norm and became popular. Stay tuned.