This anecdote comes courtesy of the CBC Radio show Under The Influence, the podcast of which my son and I listened to in the car during our road trip to Ottawa.
Unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock you have heard the McDonald’s jingle that ends, “I’m Lovin’ It”.
I am as close as anyone to living under a rock since I don’t have cable (and listen to podcasts instead of the radio) but even I failed to keep that earworm out of my head. Perhaps that is because McDonald’s spent $1.37 billion on ads the year it launched “I’m Lovin’ It,” embedding it in our consciousness.
What I didn’t know is that McDonald’s commissioned a song (of which the jingle is a part) with Justin Timberlake as vocalist, written by Pharell Williams. They released the song ahead of their campaign, relying on it pop style to gather attention and become familiar before they tied it back to McDonald’s.
In his book The Tanning of America, Steve Stoute described this approach as “reverse engineering … first putting it in a pop culture form that isn’t connected in any way to the brand.”
This is a terrific example of Principle 13 – The Other Way Round: Don’t buy a hit song for your brand, manufacture one then associate it with your brand.