McDonald’s partners to create solution for evaluating ads for cultural factors

McDonald's has more than 40,000 locations in over 100 countries.
McDonald's is making sure its ads are culturally relevant.

McDonald’s Corp. is assisting the development of technology to analyze its advertising for cultural relevance and inclusion.

The fast-food hamburger giant has partnered with consumer intelligence company NIQ to help build the new NIQ Bases Cultural Resonance module for the NIQ Bases ad testing platform. The add-on module uses a proprietary composite measure benchmarked to a database to help businesses assess the role of cultural factors in ads and how they impact consumer comprehension and relatability to the ad content. 

The tool also provides indicators for content that doesn’t deliver the intended message and offers insight into creating appropriate cultural signals.

Key features of the Bases Cultural Resonance module include:

  • Identifying red flags: Helps advertisers to spot moments within their content that may be interpreted as offensive or inadvertently limit perceived relevance. Advertisers can attempt to avoid perpetuating outdated stereotypes by actively identifying and addressing these red flags.
  • Assessing content through a cultural lens: Assists advertises in ensuring content is inclusive and represents their entire audience, including authenticity, setting, and portrayal of diversity.
  • Neuroscience insights: The module is integrated with neuroscience methodology, linking survey-based metrics to EEG emotion, memory, and attention testing measures for enhanced interpretation and guidance.

"At McDonald’s, we’re intentional about the role culture plays in the stories we tell, and we’re excited to be collaborating with NIQ and other valued partners to improve the capabilities in building authentic cultural connections with our fans through our advertising," said Jen Larkin, director, U.S. consumer insights with McDonald’s. "With processes like second-by-second feedback, this tool allows us to make real-time optimizations – making us smarter creative reviewers."

"In a rapidly evolving landscape where diversity and inclusion are paramount, the Bases Cultural Resonance module, developed in collaboration with McDonald’s, equips advertisers with the tools they need to create content that authentically connects," said Megan Belden, VP, global advertising lead at NIQ Bases. "By focusing the conversation on cultural factors, the insights from this module are set to change the conversation around representation and relatability in advertising."

McDonald’s pursues technology innovation

McDonald’s is in the midst of rolling out a broader technology strategy which aims to leverage scale and deliver greater speed and efficiency throughout the enterprise. Strategic imperatives include partnering with Accenture to apply generative AI solutions across its restaurants worldwide, as well as accelerating equipment automation and enabling restaurant general managers to effectively spot and enact solutions to reduce business disruptions.

Other efforts contained in McDonald’s technology strategy include partnering with Alphabet’s Google Cloud to connect the latest cloud technology and apply generative AI solutions across its restaurants worldwide.

In addition, beginning in 2024, McDonald’s will begin to deploy new, universal software that all of the company’s customer and restaurant digital platforms will run on. The customer operating system will enable restaurants to roll out innovation even faster, with less complexity and more stability, according to McDonald’s.

Based in Chicago, McDonald's USA LLC operates approximately 13,500 U.S. restaurants, 95% of which are owned and operated by independent business owners.

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