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McDonald’s launches ‘The Alternative Christmas List’

The fast food giant’s festive spot from Leo Burnett highlights the joy of togetherness at Christmas.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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It’s the little things that matter most at Christmas. This is the insight which sits at the heart of McDonald’s festive campaign from Leo Burnett.

The heartfelt campaign features a little boy named Alfie, who gets carried away with writing an ever-increasing Christmas list. The list multiplies in length everytime viewers see it, until eventually it’s swept up into the sky on the way to the post box. 

The campaign is another example of cost of living creativity, as the upset boy whose list is swept away rejects the joy of Christmas being reflected in the things you can buy, or add to your Christmas list and instead finds Christmas joy in time spent with loved ones. Granted, that time is depicted over food in McDonalds; with the parents taking their son to the fast food giant to cheer him up. 

In a scene designed to warm the hearts of parents everywhere, when the Mum asks ‘What was on your list anyway?’. Alfie smoothens out a scrunched up page of the list, which he managed to keep as it flew away: which shows a drawing of the family. Christmas is about who you are with, not what you can, or cannot, afford to buy.

Michelle Graham-Clare, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer at McDonald’s UK & Ireland, explained: “We know this Christmas isn’t going to be a normal one for many families across the UK and Ireland, so it’s more important than ever that we’re there to support our customers in their preparations to get Reindeer Ready. 

The Alternative Christmas List will launch in cinema’s alongside Black Panther’s ‘Wakanda Forever’ and on TV on 13th November during ITV’s ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’. The ad is supported by a specially-recorded soundtrack,  a festive rendition of Yazoo’s iconic track, ‘Only You’ recorded by Becky Hill.

We know this Christmas isn’t going to be a normal one for many families across the UK and Ireland, so it’s more important than ever that we’re there to support our customers in their preparations to get Reindeer Ready.

Michelle Graham-Clare, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer at McDonald’s UK & Ireland

A key part of the campaign is the Alternative Christmas List mobile experience, which invites consumers to enjoy six unique experiences, released weekly in the build up to Christmas. 

The experiences will include things like McDonald’s festive PJs and Jumpers for the ultimate night in on Christmas Eve, a touring festive photobooth and McDelivery Christmas carollers and a festive audio books for those families driving home for Christmas.

The campaign marks the sixth year of the #ReindeerReady creative platform, which has successfully tied the fast food giant with the shared traditions, rituals and moments which make the festive season so special. 

Dedicated festive food highlighted alongside the campaign will include the return of the Big Tasty, Festive Pie, Cheese Melt Dippers, Celebrations McFlurry, Hot Chocolate Deluxe, as well as new McCafé product, the Caramel Waffle Latte.

The campaign’s focus on family time, reflects the impact of the cost of living crisis across the UK. A message which takes the pressure off cash-strapped parents. Graham-Clare added: “ The Alternative Christmas List, which will provide many families across the UK with free, fun activities in the lead-up to the big day, but to also be supporting our charity partner BBC Children in Need with much-needed funds at a time when they need it most.”

Chaka Sobhani, Chief Creative Officer at Leo Burnett UK and Global, added: “We can all get a bit carried away by the excitement of Christmas, but we all know it’s those small moments with loved ones that matter the most. We hope the Alternative Christmas List taps into that, particularly in such a difficult year, and gets people up and down the country proper reindeer ready.”

The Red Consultancy has led activations, experiential and PR, OMD has handled all media planning and buying, CRM by Armadillo and Linney - all point of purchase activity and competitions by TMS.