Silver Spike

Case Film

Presentation Board

Product / ServiceBIG MAC
CategoryC02. Use of Social in a PR campaign
EntrantDDB Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Entrant Company DDB Sydney, AUSTRALIA
Advertising Agency DDB Sydney, AUSTRALIA

The Campaign

McDonald’s sales have been declining globally. Australian millennials lacked affinity with McDonald’s and The Big Mac. We had to use earned and owned channels to ignite sentiment and get millennials talking about the Big Mac. There’s one ingredient on the McDonald’s menu that everyone knows and loves. For the first time ever we decided to unlock Big Mac Special Sauce making it available to everyone. We launched through media relations features, heroing the sauce (and the burger that made it famous) and revealed that just one bottle of the sauce would be available to the public via an eBay charity auction. This generated significant interest and in turn, huge demand for a limited supply of sauce. Supporting this was an influencer outreach program that saw celebrities and bloggers each given one of just 200 bottles of sauce. Within 24 hours, Australia – and the globe – were talking about Special Sauce. Importantly, these conversations were being led by outlets and influencers who engage a millennial audience. News of the eBay auction trended (twice on consecutive nights!) on Facebook. The interest then provided opportunity to communicate with media and generated a second wave of global hype and discussion. We then took the sauce to the streets releasing limited edition sauce tubs through tweet-powered vending machines. Allowing consumers who would otherwise not interact with the brand, get their hands on the Special Sauce. The result? A highest bid of $23,600 for the eBay charity auction, 3.8 billion PR impressions, 6m social impressions and the strongest Big Mac sales in Australian history.

The Brief

We took on the challenge of reinvigorating the most famous product, the Big Mac, with an ambition to not only sell more burgers but to lift overall McDonald’s brand health scores by engaging a new audience – millennials.


Not only did we receive a highest bid of $23,600 for the charity auction, but we truly got our millennial audience, along with the globe, talking about Special Sauce. 3.8 billion PR impressions were generated, with all coverage being positive in tone and including key messages, while six million social media impressions were garnered, which more than doubled social sentiment (week prior to launch 8% to 17% in first week of campaign) and saw the auction trend twice on Facebook. 600,000 Special Sauce tubs were also distributed. Real business outcomes also came from this campaign with McDonald’s Australia recording the most Big Mac sales ever in Australia during the campaign period, compared to any other four week period, a result of driving 4.5 million more people into restaurant than the same time last year. All of which led improvements in Brand health scores of ‘Brand for me’ and Brand I love’.


To create exclusivity, just one of the 200 500mL bottles of Big Mac sauce was listed on eBay making it the first time a bottle of the coveted sauce would be available to people anywhere in Australia – and the world. Funds from this 10-day auction would go directly to Ronald McDonald House Charities. This was announced through a mainstream media exclusive feature that not just celebrated the sauce, but also the iconic burger that has made it so famous. Once this story ran and began syndicating and spreading across online news channels, the remaining 199 bottles where distributed to key celebrity and media influencers who kick-started the notion the Big Mac sauce could make anything taste better, by utilizing the #macitbetter hashtag across their social platforms. For the next three weeks, a tweet-powered vending machine and team of ‘sauce bombing’ promotional staff travelled to sites across the Australian eastern seaboard which played host to a large number of millennials, getting a broad range of our target audience sampling the product.

The Situation

McDonald's most iconic products, their core range, account for a disproportionate share of overall business performance and brand Equity. With core product sales in steady decline over recent years, not only does the business suffer, the McDonald's brand itself is at risk. The Big Mac, which has held iconic status throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, fading relevance has seen consumers outgrow, or worse, never grow into the icon. To get the Big Mac into the minds of the next generation, we needed to disrupt the market by making it a meaningful part of consumer culture again.

The Strategy

To disrupt the way millennials thought of the McDonald’s brand and connect them with one of our most iconic burgers, we gave them access to something which has previously been locked into a product – and not available outside of our restaurants. We’d start this by building exclusivity around the Big Mac sauce which would be available to any Australian, wherever they were, before releasing more to select celebrities and media who are influential amongst the Australian millennial set. Once interest in our iconic Special Sauce, had reached a critical mass, we then set about proving that everything tastes better when it takes like the Big Mac and allowing a millennial audience that would otherwise not interact with the Big Mac to find this out for themselves. As part of this phase, we highlighted that even some of our competitors products could only be improved by adding Big Mac Special Sauce.


Name Company Position
Toby Talbot DDB Sydney Chief Creative Officer
Cam Hoelter DDB Sydney Deputy Executive Creative Director
Steve Jackson DDB Sydney Creative Director
Ellie Jones DDB Sydney Creative Team
Avani Maan DDB Sydney Creative Team
Nicole Taylor DDB Sydney Managing Director
Josh Davoren DDB Sydney Senior Buisness Director
Melinda Parris DDB Sydney Account Director
Fran Clayton DDB Sydney Head of Planning
Anna Bollinger DDB Sydney Planning Director
Domenic Bartolo DDB Sydney Design Director
Tina Alldis Mango Sydney Senior Buisness Director
Ben Greenslade Mango Sydney Senior Sponsorship Director
Laura Cario Mango Sydney Senior Account Manager
Mark Lollback McDonald's Australia Chief Marketing Officer
Bronwyn Powell McDonald's Australia Senior Director of Marketing
Jo Feeney McDonald's Australia National Marketing Manager
Rachel Mialkowski McDonald's Australia Senior Brand Manager
Skye Oxenham McDonald's Australia Senior Corporate Communications Manager
Chris Grant McDonald's Australia Corporate Communications Manager
Mango Sydney PR Agency, City