2021 Winner

McDonald's Canada

Friends Wanted


SilverNiche Strategy

BronzeGame Changer

McDonald’s employs 85,000 people in Canada, and 74% of those are under 25. Supply tends to exceed demand, so communications play a key role in bringing new candidates into the business and keeping the restaurants operating at full capacity. Historically, the approach to recruitment advertising had followed the conventional codes of the category; portraying the positive reality of working at McDonald’s. And to its credit, it generated solid, if not spectacular, levels of success.

So when the 2019 brief landed, the hypothesis was “if it ain’t broke, dont fix it.” Yet, exploration of the broader context revealed there to be a heady mix of cultural clouds gathering on the horizon, making this year’s challenge unique:

2019 saw youth unemployment in Canada reach an all-time low.
Ascendance of the Gig Economy; not only were there fewer candidates to go after, the world of work had evolved to offer more choice & flexibility to candidates
The everlasting Myth of the ‘Dreaded McJob’. From the ignominy of entering the Oxford English Dictionary in the 1990’s, ‘McJob’ remains the default term for dead-end, low-paid, low-skill work.

With Gen Z coming of age, they’d need to find an entirely new way to frame McDonald’s as an attractive prospect.

A generation lacking in camaraderie and connection. Until recently, taking on some unglamorous hard graft was a rite of passage. Fast-forward and this is fast disappearing for Gen Z. Only 35% of 16-to-19-year-olds were employed on average from June through August 2018 - compared to 52% percent in 2000, and 58% percent in 1979.

It’s not just at work where Gen Z are losing the conventional structures of youth. Their increasing reliance on social media means less real connection. Even simple interactions like chatting with neighbors are on the decline. And more time connected through screens means less time engaging in real life activities like team sports and social clubs.

All of these shifts have led to a lack of camaraderie and real connection. It’s little wonder that Gen Z has been consistently identified as the loneliest and most stressed-out generation.
At the same time, in a peculiar phenomenon, 90’s sitcom ‘Friends’ has become one of Gen Z’s most watched shows since it began streaming on Netflix in 2015. Why has a totally analogue, supremely lighthearted and broadly stereotypical sitcom become so loved by this lonely generation? Quite simply, Friends showcases so many of the aspects of life Gen Z hanker after: camaraderie, connection and fun.

So, heeding the advice of Ross Geller, they realized it was time to “PIVOT!”. What if McDonald’s could flip the recruitment process to provide the camaraderie that Gen Z so desperately desires?

Friends Wanted: Flip the entire recruitment process on its head, and encourage people to apply together. When the agency recommended flipping the hiring process on its head, they knew it would live or die based on their ability to operationalize the idea.

With collective ambition from agency and client, some brilliantly crafted creativity and a couple of flashes of ingenuity, they managed to entirely reimagine the hiring process. Friends Wanted became the new rallying cry for recruiting youth and they built a truly 360 campaign around it. They built playful and fun films that showcased the harmless hijinks friends get up to working together in a typical McDonald’s kitchen.

Collectively with McDoanld's, they updated the application process, including IT systems and the physical interview process, and held virtual hiring fairs on Snapchat (Snaplications) to bring the strategy to bear across all touchpoints.

‘Friends Wanted’ has been one of the most successful recruitment campaigns for McDonald's Canada ever. There was significant uplift scores across Ad Recall, Recommendation and Consideration with Facebook tracking stating the scores were “the highest we’ve ever seen, for any brand in Canada”

Ad Recall saw an uplift of +30.4% points, 216% above norm. It drove a statistically significant shift in recommendation to work at McDonald’s from 1 in 5 to more than 1 in 4. Recommendation increased by +6.4% points, representing an incremental 208K people who would recommend working at McDonald’s to a friend as a result of this campaign. Consideration also increased by 8.3% points representing an incremental 270K people who would consider applying to work at McDonald’s as a result of this campaign.

Across August & September 2019, there was a 95% increase YOY in visits to the career page. And most importantly, this resulted in over 133,000 new applications, representing an impressive 16.3% increase YOY.

Agency: Cossette
Global Chief Creative Officer(s): Peter Ignazi, Carlos Moreno
Group Creative Director: Jon Frier
Associate Creative Director/Art Director: Spencer Dingle
Associate Creative Director/Copywriter: Jordan Hamer
Art Director: Tyler Robitaille
Copywriter: Ellen Porteous
Senior Designer: Eric Wood
Agency Producer: Erica Metcalfe
Strategist: Jeff McCrory
Account Executive: Vallerie Traitses
VP, Client Lead: Sarah Jue
SVP, Managing Director: Kathy McGuire
Senior Digital Project Manager: Jeff Maynard
Production Manager: Dawn-Marie Mills
Studio Director: Raquel Mullen
Senior Retoucher: Trevor Gauthier
Production Artist: Barry Kent
Senior Director, Communications: Stacey Masson
External Communications Manager: Kali Pearson
Production House: Circle Productions
Director: James Haworth
Director of Photography: Stuart Campbell
Line Producer: Amanda Field
Executive Producer: Karen Tameanko
Development Executive: Laurence Payne
Editing House: Saints Editorial
Editor: Melanie Hider
Food Stylist: Noah Witenoff
Colour/Transfer Facility: The Vanity
Colourist: Andrew Exworth
Online Facility: The Vanity
Executive Producer: Stephanie Pennington
VFX Artist: Kaelem Cahill
Casting: Mann Casting
Casting Director: Steven Mann
Audio House: Berkeley Inc.
Audio Engineer: Jared Kuemper
Photography: Rodeo Production
Photographer: Raina & Wilson

Media Agency: OMD Canada
Managing Director: Jammie Ogle
Associate Director of Strategy: Laurie St. John
Senior Strategist: Leah Burke
Senior Digital Specialist: Kate Debar

Client: McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Limited
Chief Marketing Officer: Antoinette Benoit
Marketing Officer: Hope Bagozzi
Jean-Guillaume Bertola
Senior Marketing Manager: Melanie Courtois
Chief People Officer: Stephanie Hardman External Communications Manager, Corporate Relations: Laura Munzar

Have questions? Need help?
Contact Rowan Traynor at 1-416-408-2300 x213 or rtraynor@brunico.com.