Corporate Eye

McDonald’s Hypes Free Coffee Refills with Creative Ambient Media

I love creative ambient media promotions, and Cosette West in Canada got very creative in their outdoor campaign for McDonald’s.

McDonald’s had a simple goal – to spread the word about its free coffee refills.  During a time when McDonald’s is trying to directly compete with established coffee brands such as Starbucks, the campaign needed to really make a splash.

First up … Cosette West went big by transforming a street light into a coffee cup and pot of coffee with a big “Free Refills” message that no one could miss.  Check it out below (click on the ad to see the full-size version on Ads of the World).

McDonalds ambient media street light

Second, Cosette West created an outdoor ad at a bus stop that didn’t remain static like most outdoor advertising does.  Instead, this ad changed everyday as the amount of coffee beans dwindled each day that the free refill promotion neared its end — check it out below (click on the ad to see the full-size version).   It’s easy for ads at locations like bus stops to become invisible to consumers who see them everyday.  By changing the McDonald’s ad a bit everyday, that audience is likely to notice the change and therefore, take notice of the ad again everyday.  It’s a very clever tactic.

mcdonalds ambient media bus stop

It’s this kind of creative thinking that makes consumers stop and take notice.  Does it convert and deliver ROI?  I don’t have an answer to that in the case of McDonald’s and the free coffee refills campaign, but if the primary goal was awareness, the company undoubtedly succeeded.  And isn’t that one of the first rules of advertising success — getting people to stop and notice your ad?  Without awareness, there can be no sales.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.

I think the advertising works well. It would certainly make me sit up and take notice and because people are so bombarded with the typical poster, flyer, billboard type ads, they have to get creative. It’s interesting that companies really have to advertise through “art” to get our limited attention these days.

I almost forgot to call copyright on my newly created term “artvertise”.

Dang! Someone beat me to the punch on artvertising:

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