This McDonald's Super Bowl Ad Thanks Drive-Thru Customers

The 12 months between the last Super Bowl and the one happening this Sunday, February 7, have been pretty bad for restaurants. Most establishments have been closed for indoor dining in an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants have had to rely on takeout and delivery to stay alive. While this situation has been a real challenge for everyone in the industry, McDonald's actually did well, at least in the second half of 2020. Same-store sales grew 4.6 percent in the third quarter (July, August, September) compared to the same three months in 2019 (via PR Newswire). Sales at individual McDonald's restaurants even grew by double digits in September, which was the month the chain sold the wildly successful Travis Scott meal.

In the final three months of 2020, McDonald's saw a 5.5 percent increase in same-store sales (via Yahoo! Finance). The return of the McRib should get some of the credit for that end-of-year boost. Arguably, most of the credit for McDonald's success in 2020 should go to the drive-thrus. McDonald's conducted 70 percent of its business at drive-thru windows during the pandemic (via Wired).

McDonald's would have been in serious trouble in 2020 without its drive-thrus, and those drive-thrus wouldn't have been such a big hit if it weren't for the chain's customers. That's why McDonald's is using the 30 seconds of TV advertising it bought on Super Bowl Sunday to "thank you for driving thru."

McDonald's Super Bowl ad to air before coin toss

As described by Adweek, the commercial shows people driving in their cars, singing some catchy tune that's stuck in their head. In one shot, it's "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers. As the vehicles start rolling through their separate McDonald's drive-thrus, presumably scattered all across the country, drivers and passengers all start singing Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back To Me Now." The spot is supposed to show the small pleasures we managed to find in 2020 – singing, being with people we care about, and eating McDonald's burgers and fries.

While the one drive-thru employee that appears in the McDoanld's Super Bowl commercial is wearing a face mask, none of the customers in cars are – even though health experts recommend it (via UT Health Austin). We can only assume the masks would have interfered with all the singing that was going on.

You won't find McDonald's on many lists of 2021 Super Bowl commercials, including the one in Vulture. Strictly speaking, the McDonald's ad that debuts this Sunday on CBS isn't a Super Bowl commercial because it will air before the coin toss, which is right before the start of the game. So, if you want to see what McDonald's ad agency came up with for the big game, you'll want to get settled in front of your TV or streaming device a little early.