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McDonald's Campaign Stars Pop Singer Timberlake

September 03, 2003|From Associated Press

MUNICH, Germany — McDonald's Corp. on Tuesday launched a global advertising campaign featuring pop star Justin Timberlake in a bid to freshen the burger giant's image and boost business.

The ads, which made their debut on German television as the company unveiled the new concept in Munich, are part of a turnaround push that has seen the company bring in a new chief executive and close hundreds of under-performing restaurants.

"It's advertising that, when people look at it, they will say, 'I've never seen that before from McDonald's,' " said Larry Light, the company's global chief marketing officer.

Marketing professionals had advised the company that its image was getting somewhat dated, Light said, so McDonald's decided to freshen its image.

The company hopes its new slogan -- "I'm lovin' it" -- will help it connect better with young adults, mothers and kids as sales sag in a glutted restaurant market.

Germany was chosen for the launch because the slogan was conceived by Munich-based ad agency Heye & Partner. The new tag line replaces "We love to see you smile."

By the end of the month, the campaign will appear in more than 100 countries. The U.S. launch is scheduled for Sept. 29, with Timberlake, of the pop group 'N Sync, featured in some of the spots.

The slogan made its first appearance in its German version, Ich liebe es. Each region can decide which language is most effective for its campaign, said Ricarda Ruecker, a spokeswoman for the German unit, McDonald's Deutschland.

The company, which was founded in 1955, showed its first quarterly loss in the last three months of 2002. CEO James Cantalupo took over in January and said putting the company back on track would take at least until 2005.

Shares of the Oak Brook, Ill.--based restaurant chain rose 8 cents to close at $22.50 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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