McDonald’s Canada enlists Raptors’ Nick Nurse to push its revamped Big Mac

Who: McDonald’s Canada and Cossette, with OMD Canada for media and Weber Shandwick for PR.

What: A new national campaign celebrating the QSR’s partnership with the Toronto Raptors, with an emphasis on the Big Mac.

The QSR has also brought back its popular “Beyond the Arch” promotion, which gives users of the My McD app a free order of medium French Fries whenever the Raptors hit 12 three-point shots in a game.

Last year’s promotion was limited to Ontario, but McDonald’s has expanded the program to every province except Quebec (where the McGoal program gives away a free medium fries whenever the Montreal Canadiens score the first goal in a game).

When & Where: The campaign broke last week and includes TV (focused on Ontario) with digital pushed out organically through McDonald’s channels and paid social on major platforms.

Why: The program is building on the success of last year’s partnership between the fast food giant and the Raptors, which was named NBA Partnership of the year at the NBA Team Partnership Awards in July.

This year’s campaign is specifically focused on the QSR’s revamped Big Mac—cooked in smaller batches for hotter, juicier beef, and with more of its Mac Sauce.

How: The spots envision how Nurse’s coaching style would translate to a QSR environment, depicting him as the new head coach of a McDonald’s kitchen crew.

The campaign launched with a 15-second spot in which Nurse—sitting in front of the stylized bouncing ball McDonald’s logo—informs a press conference that he’s leaving to coach a new team.  Another spot features Nurse, clad in Raptors gear with a stopwatch in hand, giving instructions to McDonald’s team members as they prepare a Big Mac, while a third shows Nurse shutting down a version of the wave involving crew members and cooking equipment.

About “Beyond the Arch”: Yep, it got a lot of attention last year when the Raptors were the sixth best three-point shooting team in the NBA, with a 36.6% success rate.

According to a report in the Financial Post, McDonald’s underestimated Raptors’ fans appetite for free fries. They redeemed about two million orders of fries—worth an estimated $5.8 million—during the regular season alone.

That far exceeded the 700,000 orders McDonald’s expected to give away (its estimates were based on a previous fry giveaway program executed with the Canadiens). It gave away a record 80,000 orders after game one of the NBA Finals alone, when the Raptors hit 13 three-pointers (the team has hit 12 three-pointers in five of its six games so far this season).

What about Quebec: The French-language campaign features Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin meeting with former Habs legend Guy Carbonneau, informing him that promoting a classic like the Big Mac requires a legend.

Carbonneau, who won two Cups with the Habs and is one of the team’s most popular players, swells with pride. But his smile fades when Bergevin (36 goals, 181 points in 1,191 NHL games) informs him “That’s why I’m going to do it.” The choice of Bergevin for the campaign—not exactly a star player in a city that idolizes its hockey stars—was the subject of some discussion in the media.

And we quote: “During the Toronto Raptors epic championship season, it’s clear they became Canada’s basketball team. We thought that we owed it to the expanded fan base to broaden ‘Beyond the Arch’ to include even more provinces this season, so more fans can celebrate the Raptors success across Canada!” —Chuck Coolen, McDonald’s senior marketing manager, Eastern Canada.

(This story has been updated to reflect that the campaign starring Nick Nurse is not related to the Beyond the Arch promotion). 


Chris Powell