What McDonald’s has learned from its failed YouTube channel

What McDonald’s has learned from its failed YouTube channel

As suddenly as it came, McDonald’s YouTube channel went and the restaurant has opened up about what went wrong during that 12 month period, particularly the challenges of simultaneously scaling content and generating earned media value.

The fast food chain was one the most high profile brands to enter the content space last September, after recognising that it wasn’t connecting with 16-24 year olds. Enter Channel Us, a YouTube channel presented by popular YouTube faces Oli White and Gabriella Lindley, which focussed on ‘how to’ videos, such as how to become a music video director, or how to dance, featuring famous faces in different fields.

At launch, McDonalds heralded the channel as "a ground-breaking moment for the brand in the UK", but just over 12 months later, and with none of the nine films posted in 2016 managing to hit 1,000 views, the chain decided to cut its losses.

Speaking to The Drum Ben Fox, head of media and customer engagement at McDonald’s and judge at the upcoming creative out of home awards, revealed the challenges of creating content with purpose and how the brand still plans to play in the content space.

“We have learnt that content is really difficult and content with purpose is really important. Like a lot of brands, it is a challenge for us and we are looking at a lot of different ways we can pull people towards our brand to build affinity with other audiences. It’s an inherent challenge in terms of making content that people want to see but also says something about you as a brand.

“We have learnt a lot about what works and what doesn’t and we will be applying that to all of our content moving forward. It is very difficult to name brands that have been successful in that space but it doesn’t mean we aren’t going to keep trying and see what works for us and what doesn’t.”

For those fans that McDonald’s did managed to engage on YouTube, affinity for the brand grew. However, Fox admitted that “the ability to do that at scale and generate the earned media value on the back of it was challenging”.

Aside from trying to reach the tricky millenial audience McDonald’s is looking at how it can more effectively use its customer data, while creating value for those willing to share their information. As part of this McDonald’s could soon be testing Click and Collect in the UK market, although Fox could not be drawn on any specific details.

“We do have an app, but the question is, well, ‘why do I need to give you data to understand when your stores open and where the nearest one is?’ As we look to the future and things like Click and Collect that’s where there is a clear opportunity to understand more about our customers and give them a better experience on the back of it. It is an area that we are interested in and one that we are looking at very closely at the minute.”

Fox is a member of the judging panel for The Drum’s Creative Out Of Home awards, which take place on 23rd November 2016 at the Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel, London. Nominations for the awards will be announced Friday 14 October.

The awards are sponsored by livedooh and Fepe International.

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Natalie Mortimer

I look after all things creative.

All by Natalie