In the mid 90s, I saw a commercial for McDonald’s. It was the story of a young boy contriving a meeting between his estranged parents. The setting for this cunningly convened meeting was… McDonald’s.
Skilfully directed by Simon Cheek, the commercial moved me. And it was this commercial that convinced me to leave Abbott Mead Vickers for Leo Burnett.
‘If they can make that…’ I thought.
Over the ensuing twenty years or so, McDonald’s and Leo Burnett have enjoyed considerable success together. McDonald’s has built its business in the UK with Leo Burnett’s help. The Guardian at one point commented that McDonald’s had become ‘woven into the fabric of British society’ and made ‘as British as Fish and Chips’. And, of course, McDonald’s advertising has been recognised down the
years, notably with Gold awards at this show.
The ‘Advertiser of Excellence’ award for 2014 is recognition of the work of many people over many years. Creatives, creative directors, producers, planners and account people. Some of our very best directors – Chris Palmer, Tarsem, Simon Cheek, Kirk Jones, Vince Squibb, Paul Gay, Fredrik Bond, Simon Ratigan, James Rouse and Andy McLeod to name just a few. And critically, of course, a succession of enlightened clients who have backed their own judgement denuded of the crutch of research that fast-turnaround retail advertising makes impossible.
As so many of us have come and gone, though, one man has been there for the journey and deserves special mention. Graeme Light worked on his first McDonald’s commercial in 1989 and is still making them twenty-five years later. Graeme is a creative producer – professional, dedicated, smart, modest and admired and, as Head of Production at Leo Burnett, respected and trusted by colleagues, clients and the industry.
Finally, I would ask you to consider this. Where other worthy winners of this award have made maybe five films a year, McDonald’s consistently produces over fifty with up to five in production at any one time. That it has maintained a quality through all this time is its real achievement.