Test and learn the key to digital expansion for McDonald’s Australia

In our second interview with APAC media experts, David Brocklehurst, Managing Director for FirmDecisions APAC, talks to Chris Graham, Head of Media ANZ for McDonald’s.

DB: Tell me about how you split your time as Head of Media at McDonald’s.

CG: My role is all about making best use of our marketing funds to grow sales, and I do this in three ways.

First, I play the role of an internal media consultant, working with everyone in the marketing organization from the Assistant Brand Manager right up to the CMO. Together we address any questions they may have, on process, media recommendations, media negotiations, transparency; nothing is off-limits. But I’m not a controller, or someone who needs to be in charge of everything, and so I don’t have to be involved in every conversation – just where I’m needed and can add value.

Second, I’m deeply involved in agency performance management – media, to be sure, but also creative, social, and merchandizing agencies – looking to get the best performance possible from all of our agency partners. This includes formal performance evaluation done twice yearly, as well as ad hoc meetings for which marketing colleagues seek my support.

And third, financial management – setting and tracking budgets and recommending where savings can be reinvested to ensure that every dollar is well spent, or even returned to the business at year end.

DB: What’s the global/local split?

CG: Naturally we’re involved in local activation of global campaigns, like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. But there’s a good degree of autonomy and freedom within the framework, allowing us to make local decisions – for example, seeking out local expertise on social. Australia is a big market for McDonald’s, with 950 stores and more than 250 licensees, so we’re very much on global’s radar.

DB: Can you tell us a bit more about working with franchisees?

CG: As much as we’re a global brand, we’re also very local too. Our licensees are very much involved in the development of the marketing plan and media recommendations, and they all have strong and valued opinions. Some are very tech-savvy and digital first, and when we experiment with new media channels and choices – as we often do, because they have a good return for us – we’re challenged and get push back to prove their worth and impact. We definitely spend a lot of time working with our licensees – the more they understand what we are doing and why, the easier it is to help them grow their businesses.

DB: What’s your approach to measurement and evaluation?

CG: Measurement and evaluation are vital – the more objective we can be, and the less subjective we can be, the better. That’s why we’ve implemented the use of market mix modeling and econometrics into our marketing processes to assess the return on investment, and it’s paying dividends. It’s really hard to have proper conversations – about types of campaigns or media channels, day parts or flighting of a campaign – if you don’t have the numbers to demonstrate whether or not something is working. Marketing effectiveness analytics is now baked into everything we do, and our marketing colleagues and agency partners really value this approach.

DB: Does programmatic work for McDonald’s?

CG: Programmatic for McDonald’s is all about targeting audiences in a smarter way, interacting with them where they’re consuming media content, and doing this in an automated way. I’m happy with the present of programmatic and optimistic about the future. Keener targeting is all about removing and minimizing wastage and delivering better ROI by not targeting those who aren’t interested in our products or messages. At a macro level, we’ve now got a really good understanding of how digital works for us; at a more granular level, we know how to leverage different social channels and how best to use video and mobile. At the same time, we also acknowledge that these channels and platforms are rapidly evolving, so we cannot get set in our ways.

DB: Do you deal direct with the major platforms or via trading desks?

CG: Both, and for different reasons. The great thing about a brand like McDonald’s is that we’re seen by media owners as great partners to test and experiment with – they want to try out innovative solutions with us, because of our unique scale and reach. And because we’re a thriving brand, we’ve got the appetite to innovate. So that’s why we deal with the Googles and Facebooks of this world both directly and via our agency.

DB: Are transparency and trust big issues for McDonalds?

CG: With questions like this, I always start by asking myself what the goal of the relationship is. For me, working together with our agency partners really does demand an active partnership: working together, cooperatively, to do the best possible job for each other. And to achieve that, you need mutual respect and trust and transparency. Sure, that can be written into contracts, but it also needs to infuse the spirit as well as the letter of the relationship.

The foundations of a trusting relationship are being clear about the goals, knowing what’s in scope and what’s out of scope, and agreeing what we will and won’t pay for. A good, honest dialogue is where that begins.