As McDonald's looked for additional opportunities to build capacity to drive sales, and, recognizing the trend that more and more consumers have become time-shifted, the overnight, or "4thdaypart" was identified as an area of strategic priority.
The late night advertising or merchandising that was available focused on the 24-hour convenience message and left the consumer, their lifestyle and needs out of the equation. A local market expression was critically missing.
Fahlgren Mortine conducted research to identify a unique culture of late night consumers ranging in age from 18-34 years old. While the top end of the target consumer included Gen Xers, the largest portion of the target focused on Millennials — a generational group where McDonald's has struggled to create any lasting brand affinity.
To localize the national 24-hour creative focus and build equity at late night for the McDonald's brand, we developed a creative platform based on the idea of the "Nocturnivore" — a consumer insights driven persona for those who are out eating at night, but who are also out eating up the night; the proud late-night concert-goer, online gamer, or run-of-the-mill night-owl. The tagline, "Savor the Night," most succinctly captured this sentiment and was used throughout the campaign. With TV, radio and out-of-home, we introduced consumers to the idea of the Nocturnivore by connecting them with the idea that late-night emanates from the stores; simply turn our lights on and we become a beacon in the night. With in-store elements such as pre-sell kiosks, we dove deeper into the Nocturnivore manifesto and helped define the spirit of the Nocturnivore, creating greater affinity for the Millennial that marches to their own beat.
The true success was the placement relative to the target audience. Spotify, Pandora, Hulu and EA Sports in-game integration helped seed the message with our target consumers, especially as they were engaging in late-night activities such as online gaming. Our non-traditional placements helped "personalize" the campaign by connecting both message and mindset with in-concert signage, branded photobooth, "over-21" wrist bands and pedicabs serving as the final, personal reminder to go forth and Savor the Night.
In its first year, Nocturnivore markets were up 17.9 percent in comparative sales and 15.8 percent in guest counts. And two weeks following a single placement in Columbus Business First, the story was picked up and circulated around the globe, from properties such as the Chicago Tribune, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, Time, Moneyland and the UK Daily Mail, to younger-skewing publications such as The Huffington Post and a Gawker "Prose poem the news" posting. The earned media exposure totaled more than 99 million impressions — a testament to the relevancy of the campaign.
The campaign was widely adopted across the Ohio region lasting three years and resulted in a national trademark filing for Nocturnivore on behalf of McDonald's-USA. It was recognized with a national Gold SABRE award and a national Silver Anvil Award of Excellence for integrated communications.