MUNICH, Germany — McDonald's Corp. on Tuesday launched a new global ad campaign aimed at shaking up its image and giving it a younger, hipper appeal with the slogan "I'm lovin' it."
The new campaign made its debut on German television as the company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., unveiled the concept in Munich. It's the latest move in a turnaround push that has seen the burger chain bring in a new chief executive and close hundreds of restaurants.
The new ads show fast-changing action scenes of people break dancing, diving into the ocean with a surfboard or speeding down a water slide, all to a hip-hop soundtrack with vocals in the local language, be it Malay, Russian or English.
Marketing experts told the company its image had become dated, said Larry Light, the company's global chief marketing officer. The goal of the campaign, he said, "is, No. 1, to contemporize the image and modernize it and, No. 2, to communicate to the world that no matter who you are, you're welcome at McDonald's, that we aren't just a place for kids and Happy Meals."
"We want consumers to think, 'something's changing,' " Light said. "Young adults, for instance, for example, didn't think they were welcome at McDonald's — 'it's not for me, when I have kids I'll come back.' "
Germany was chosen as launch venue because the slogan was dreamed up by a German ad agency, Heye & Partner. The new tag line replaces "We love to see you smile."
By the end of the month, the new campaign is to start in more than 100 countries. The U.S. launch is set for Sept. 29, with pop star Justin Timberlake heard singing the song in several of the English-language commercials and making fleeting cameo appearances.
The slogan made its debut Tuesday in its German version, "ich liebe es."
Each of the company's regional operations will decide whether to use the English slogan or a native version, though the song in the commercials will always be sung in the local language. Other variations include the French "c'est tout ce que j'aime" and the Spanish "me encanta."
Tuesday's launch comes with the company in the midst of a shake-up under chief executive James Cantalupo, who took over in January.
McDonald's, which was founded in 1955 and has been publicly traded since 1965, showed its first-ever quarterly loss in the last three months of 2002. Cantalupo says putting the company back on track will take at least until 2005.
The company has cut capital spending, closed restaurants, renewed efforts to improve service and introduced new menu items such as a meal-sized salad and the McGriddle breakfast sandwich.
Same-store sales jumped 4.9 percent in the United States in the second quarter, helping push up worldwide comparable sales by 1.2 percent. But sales were flat in Europe, the company's No. 2 market, and net profit fell 5 percent in the quarter, to $470.9 million from $490.5 million.
Heye & Partner, based in the Munich suburb of Unterhaching, was among 14 international ad agencies that bid for the McDonald's contract.
Heye stands out among German firms for its use of humor, such as an earlier McDonald's ad in which aliens lurking in bushes near the Golden Arches decide to wait to attack until after the earthlings have had burgers — because they'll taste better then.