Why McDonald’s Is Hiding in New Mindy Kaling Campaign

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McDonald's Mindy Kaling unbranded Google ad campaign

If you’ve ever wondered whether the Coca-Cola at McDonald’s really does taste better than the fountain versions purveyed elsewhere, you can infer that you are correct from the latest ad campaign for McDonald’s.

And that’s not all you’ll have to infer: McDonald’s itself isn’t mentioned in the new commercials starring actress Mindy Kaling. It’s only implied.

In fact, the ads are just “part of the chain’s first unbranded marketing campaign,” according to the New York Times. 

Identifying the Golden Arches in the ad only as “that place where Coke tastes so good,” McDonald’s identity also is hinted at by Kaling’s bright-gold dress and the red backdrop.

She talks with a “beverage technician” about how good the Coke is at the unidentified destination, and her and his words are bleeped and black-boxed outs so that McDonald’s isn’t fingered.

The “mystery” is meant to mimic how teens and twenty-somethings use their phones to search for something while watching TV, the Times said, while also acknowledging “how they’re discovering information they trust.”

mcdonalds-unbranded-intervention

The videos reside in an anonymous YouTube channel whose description reads:

This is that page for that place where Coke tastes so good. And you know where that is. Because if you’re here, you’re clearly one of those “web-savvy” types who knows how to do a Google search. A Google search for that place where Coke tastes so good. And even though you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, there’s A LOT of people who seem to agree. Who would lie about something as delicious as a crisp, refreshing Coca-Cola? Not the Internet, that’s for sure. So bravo to you, web-savvy type. As a reward for figuring it all out, we’d like to offer you any size Coke for $1. At that place. That you know. Where Coke tastes so good.

“This ad is part of our beverage promotion, featuring $1 any size soft drinks and $2 small McCafé smoothies, frappés and shakes,” McDonald’s said in a statement to CNBC. “This is McDonald’s first unbranded marketing campaign and we are letting the Internet conversation on people enjoying Coca-Cola at McDonald’s speak for itself.”

Kaling has been a big social fan of the brand for years, for example, writing in her 2015 book, Why Not Me?, that McDonald’s sent her a stack of $10 gift cards on her birthday.

Yet, as she told the Times, she partnered with the brand “without being able to say the name of the brand”—and jokingly asked to be paid in french fries.

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