College students say the darndest things. In a recent marketing class, our discussion turned to McDonald’s unique TV ad, “Signs,” which features shots of the iconic golden arches, each with a customized message on its placard:
• Thank you Veterans
• We Remember 9/11
• Boston Strong
• Hug Those Dads
“I think the ad is great,” a student in the classroom’s front row said. He explained how he really liked the ad’s theme and positive emotion. What he said next, however, washed away all the brand equity: “But I still hate McDonald’s.” Much of the class nodded in agreement.
It’s not fair to judge a firm’s success on a single set of reactions to one ad. Still, the students’ collective response to the commercial and to the McDonald’s brand is very telling. For every organization seeking to build or restore its brand, there are at least two valuable lessons here to be learned:
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