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Hey McDonald’s India, wanna cause-market? Learn from Uber India!


So McDonald’s India is taking away your choice to order what you want if you didn't vote. Really, they did that? You mean this is what flirting with Cause Marketing has taken the burger brand to? Wow. If you ask me, I'd say it can't get any dumber than that. I am racking my brains to figure the point of this message-focused cause campaign. Could it be about PR that solicits buyer appreciation of the brand? Could it be a timing focused campaign that cuts through advertising clutter to grab eyeballs? Could it be a socially-conscious association with Election Commission so the brand can do that extra bit for sustenance of a democracy?  

Am still figuring that one out.

If McDonald's wanted to plunge into marketing ‘causes’ in India, maybe they should take a leaf out of Uber India’s book. So Uber has smartly tied up with NDTV to run a campaign called Roshan Dilli. Here are 4 reasons why McD’s #makeyourchoice can learn from Uber-NDTV’s #roshandilli.

  1. Align it right - Uber’s desire for lit-up streets makes sense since they want to keep riders safe. In India, spaces that are not lit are very vulnerable to crime. The enabling platform Uber-NDTV provide to citizens to report on unlit streets is truly welcome. Contrast this with a burger brand urging people to vote. Never mind the cause-marketing video McDonald’s unveiled, the link between a burger and voting is as slim as the cheese slice you get in their burgers.

  1. Time it long - Once the voting fever is over, McDonald's initiative falls flat. They won’t give a damn, neither will we. In comparison, the NDTV-Uber campaign can spread across cities and can stay round for long. If a brand is going to connect to causes, it better be ones that stick around for long.

  1. Make it count - The key to getting a cause-plunge right is through learning and building credibility in the eyes of your target public. When a burger brand urges people to vote via a digital media campaign and ends the video with voters raising their inked fingers and mouthing, ‘I’m lovin it’, you now the whole thing is nothing more than a passing gimmick. You see, that’s zero credibility there, but when Uber says we want to help light up dark spots around the city so people can be safe, it strikes a chord. Now that’s sparks a credible beginning.

  1. Pick it well - When brands pick a cause to truck with, they better choose one well. To get your choice right, you’ve got to assess what matters to your target public. Of course, voting is an important act, but the cause isn't something that matters much to many. That’s ‘cos they know Governments come and go without making a whit of a difference to their everyday lives. In Bangalore where I live, almost 1 in 2 voters didn’t turn up at the booth. Though the pundits call it apathy, it really isn’t. It's just educated citizens knowing that private initiatives do a ton more than government indulgences in making people’s lives better. It's why they don't care. Not so when it comes to unlit dark dangerous spots across the city. Every family worries when their loved ones take a taxi ride on their own in India. If there’s a cause that can allay their fears just a bit, it matters to them. Big time.

Make no mistake, I love brand McDonald’s. I teach the brilliance of this brand in my classroom. However this time around, they’ve got it all wrong. If I had one advice I could give them about what they should do to strengthen relationships with their buyers, I’d say, stick to your bun and patty. Don't waste your time on anything else.  

Oh and as they say, it's the burger, stupid!

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