McDonald’s: ‘We need to allow kids to have an understanding of marketing’

Young people should be given the opportunity to understand marketing, says McDonald’s marketing manager for families, Marie Emery


Winning idea from the Ideas Foundation project for invisible adverts
Winning idea from the Ideas Foundation project for invisible adverts

At an event designed to enable young people to interact with brands, Marie Emery, marketing manager for families at McDonald’s, stressed the importance of inspiring young people to work in the creative industries.

Just last week, Google’s head of commercial marketing UK & Ireland, Nishma Robb also claimed that “marketing is not considered a career option because kids don’t understand what it is”.

The McDonald’s event was run by charity, the Ideas Foundation, where its ‘I am creative’ programme brings together brands, agencies and students.

The project offers brands first-hand insight into the lucrative teen market and gives young people a chance to discover the creative industry as a possible career choice and simultaneously promotes diversity in the workplace.

Emery said: “At school I would have never considered working in this industry but it’s different now. If you think back to when you were at school you wouldn’t have had these opportunities to interact with a huge brand and advertising agency.”

McDonald’s provided students with a live brief for a campaign its working on with agency Leo Burnett for summer centred around families.

“Programmes like this are really interesting because they allow kids to have an understanding of what marketing is and it is a live brief rather than it being something that is a bit left-field,” adds Emery.

The brief given to the school and college kids was to come up with a campaign to bring families together at McDonald’s more often, and after presenting their ideas the judges deliberated on whether the raw idea would be valuable to McDonald’s and if it addresses business and community needs.

The winner, who gets to work with the Ideas Foundation on a progression scheme that can lead to employment in a creative agency, was student Tom Leigh from Oaklands College in Hertfordshire.

Tom presented an idea called ‘Meet your family’ which consisted of print ads aimed at stereotypical members of a family, showing the different ways you could be having a better time with a mum, dad, brother or sister if it were at McDonald’s.


He also proposed a mobile app where an individual can earn points when a member of their family visits a McDonald’s store, using a unique code registered to each person in the family, and running invisible adverts that can only be seen when a consumer is wearing sunglasses – a technique used for outdoor ads in Australia for Lynx deodorant.

McDonald’s claims that some of the ideas coming from the day were close to what they are already working on.

Highly commended work from other schools in attendance included a ‘McSelfie Booth’ for families to pose and take pictures in booths located in restaurants, which the brand said could be considered but it would “think about how it would come to life in a campaign”.

An idea called ‘Silly Side’ featuring families having fun at McDonald’s also achieved highly commended.

The Ideas Foundation previously ran a project with Nokia, which asked teenagers from the programme to develop an app but it is unclear at the moment whether McDonald’s will be implementing any of the students’ answers to its ‘families’ brief.