McDonald’s is the world’s largest fast-food chain store serving over 60 million people. It specializes mostly on hamburgers as their fastest moving product. It serves over 199 countries since 1955 (McDonald’s.com, 2011).
General Motors (GM), on the other hand, is a company created in 1900 to manufacture automobiles. It has since grown into a world giant until 2008, when it almost collapsed. GM purchased the rights to manufacture a Humvee hummer model in 1998. It has then produced a small-modified version of Humvee consisting of H1, H2 and H3 models. This paper interrogates a marketing communication strategy failure by McDonald’s and GM partnership of promoting the Hummer model (General Motors, 2011).
Automobile manufacturer General Motors (GM) and giant fast-food chain McDonald's joined in an attempt to help market GM’s new brand of Hummer vehicles that had been experiencing low sales. Notable in this issue was the public’s concern over the high fuel consumption capacity of H2 model of the Hummer. On the other hand, H1 model was neither doing well with Autodata statistics, indicating sales of only 229 H1 model Hummers.
The agreement between GM and McDonald’s was responsible for this grim statistic. McDonalds included a variety of toy Hummers in every package of purchase to a child. The catch was to advertise the model of the vehicle to parents through their children. The communication strategy adopted was to place the token Hummer toys in children’s meal boxes, the outcome would be to convey a message to the parents that driving a Hummer is prestigious. This strategy was relying on the children as mean of passing this message to the parents while at the same time creating the superb impression about the Hummer’s quality (Nunez, 2006).
The creative strategy relied on the psychological effect that this would affect parents and children. First, the two companies hoped that they would boast the appeal of the two products, which are the McDonald’s meal and the Hummers. Secondly, that the Hummers would dominate the meal boxes and homes as well, become an object of envy to the children and translate this perceived desirability to their parents. Remembering that, the company went ahead and started a website for the Hummer promotion as a creative follow-up. Another facet that the two companies hoped to count on was the generational aspect. By placing these toys in children’s meal boxes and making it an object of envy and fantasy, a generation that desired Hummers was to be nurtured (Roy, 2009).
After the official launch of this partnership, McDonald’s attempted to gain mainstream media attention and coverage by organizing a lunch parade at Michigan Avenue in Chicago. To boast the event and lure the media into its focus they featured Ronald MacDonald sitting on a Hummer’s hood. They also introduced a new angle to boast its appeal by introducing an electronic press kit. McDonald’s communication manager indicated that the kit would help to monitor sales every time a consumer pressed the kit (Burton, 2006).