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McDonald’s has released an advert shining a light on the lives of the almost 3.2 million night-shift workers in the UK and Ireland, whose work often goes unnoticed. We explore the insights behind why the fast-food chain is championing these ‘unsung heroes’ with empathy and admiration, tapping into people’s desire for recognition and compassion.

Directed by Sam Brown and the team at Leo Burnett, the 60-second bit spans across social, radio, and digital, and begins with an invisible person waking up to their 11pm alarm. Scenes depict the jobs night-shift workers do, such as roadworks, re-stocking supermarkets, and looking after patients in a hospital. At the end of the advert, a group of workers walks towards a McDonald’s, and they suddenly become visible. “From nurses to taxi drivers and firefighters to road workers, this campaign celebrates those unseen, unsung heroes and the role McDonald’s plays in keeping them going,” says Ben Fox, director of brand, experience, and media at McDonald’s UK and Ireland. 

By championing and reframing night shift workers as heroes, McDonald's aims to show its soft touch
McDonald's | YouTube (2020) ©

Expectations for 24/7 services and products have driven the increase of night economy workers, as they race to deliver parcels, maintain roads, and shuttle people around. Indeed, between 2012 and 2017, the number of people working night shifts in the UK increased by 9%, to almost 3.2 million. Further, the number of gig workers or short-term contractors and freelancers rose by 4.9% between 2016 and 2019. But despite their presence, few people acknowledge the work and effort taken on by the night shift. By championing and reframing them as heroes with an authentic narrative, McDonald’s demonstrates its soft touch. Similarly, Starbucks’ ‘Every Name’s a Story’ ad offered a realistic portrayal of a trans person’s experience.

Isabel Evans is a junior behavioural analyst at Canvas8. Fascinated by how and why people do things, she has an MSc in cognitive and decision sciences from UCL. You can often find her drinking endless coffees, running around Regent’s Park, or delving into a book.


25 Mar 20
2 min read

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