A song called Nihon No Fureeba has topped Indonesia’s music charts and become the #1 search on Shazam. And here is a verse from the song’s lyrics:
Soft bun, crispy nori, Yakiniku sauce and authentic taste
McDonald’s Taste of Japan, What a uniquely awesome flavor.
Hai, it’s a McDonald’s jingle. But how could an ad become the country’s favorite pop song?
“Because no one knew that it was an ad. The lyrics were in Japanese, untranslated, and people thought that it was just a nice feelgood J-Pop song!” explains Ravi Shanker, Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett Indonesia.
“Japanese pop culture is strong in Indonesia. People love Japanese pop songs and put them in their playlists, sing along, even wearing cool t-shirts with Japanese letters—all without understanding what they mean.”
This cultural finding propelled Leo Burnett to create the song Nihon No Fureeba, collaborating with Indonesian-Japanese singer Ica Zahra. Ica released the song as her highly-anticipated Japanese single, without subtitles.
Everyone loved the song without knowing that it was in fact an untranslated ad. Within one week, the music video was watched more than three million times. The song became the talk of radio, and hundreds of covers and TikTok dances were made.
Then, Ica Zahra and McDonald’s made a shocking revelation. The lyrics were in fact promoting the relaunch of McDonald’s Taste of Japan burgers featuring crispy nori and Yakiniku sauce. Suddenly, everyone’s attention shifted to the burgers.
The message: even though some might not understand McDonald’s onigiri-looking burgers (some even go so far as to call them ‘weird’), they'll love the taste anyway. Just like they love Japanese songs.
With the launch of Nihon No Fureeba, people’s curiosity towards the burgers spiked so fast that first-week sales surpassed the past 3 years.
Michael Hartono, Marketing Director at McDonald’s Indonesia, says: “At the end of the day, the campaign is making people love not only the burgers but also the brand. Even after people realized that it was an ad, they still continue doing karaoke with it, and the song–I mean the jingle–is now in thousands of Spotify playlists to this day.”
Well, the moral of this story is: next time a J-Pop song is released, make sure that it's not a McDonald’s ad.
This professional campaign titled 'The Untranslated Ad' was published in Indonesia in August, 2023. It was created for the brands: McDonald's and McDonald's Indonesia, by ad agency: Leo Burnett Indonesia. This Audio and Film media campaign is related to the Food industry and contains 3 media assets. It was submitted 4 months ago by Creative PR: Barbara Messer of Publicis Groupe.
Client: McDonald’s Indonesia
Director of Marcomms, CBI & Digital: Michael Hartono
Associate Director of Marketing: Caroline Kurniadjaja
Marketing Manager: Rio Hastowo
Marketing Manager: William Karmawan
Assistant Marketing Manager: Widya Noviantal
Agency: Leo Burnett Indonesia
CEO: Sony Nichani
CCO: Ravi Shanker
CCO, Southeast Asia: Ajay Thrivikraman
Senior Creative Director: Dafi Alfadila
Associate CD & Writer: Joshua Tjandra
General Manager: Yusdina Fibriyanti
Head of Planning: Nilakshi Medhi
Senior Account Director: Margie Bangun
Planning Manager: Sakshi Sharma
Senior Art Director: Levina Christy
Art Director: Septian Listyanto
Senior Copywriter: Ayu Meutia
Junior AE: Cherisha Dewi
Graphic Designer: Sarah Aghnia
Graphic Designer: Bella Ferina
Senior Project Manager: Yuliani Sherlyta
Senior Producer: Anti Istianti
Head of Digital: Imran Quraishi
Social Media Associate Director: Timothy Laksmana
Social Media Team: Ni Wayan Desy, Arini Rizki, Sandra Adi
PR Executive: Chessa AT Thariq
Song & music video:
Composer, Songwriter & Talent: Ica Zahra
Arranger: Tyas Pratama
Original lyrics: Leo Burnett Indonesia
Japanese lyrics: Ica Zahra, Kaito Mori
Mixing & mastering: Stevano
Recording: 1207 Studio Tokyo, Japan
Music video Director: Tomomi
Cameraman: Chiori Morioka
Production: Mao Tsukamoto