Have you ever found yourself pondering the undeniable resemblance between the digital hamburger menu icon, and McDonald's iconic triple-decker treat?

If so, you're not alone. All will become clear (well, maybe) in this utterly absurd mockumentary, created by NORD DDB Helsinki through Breakfast for fast food chain McDonald's in Finland. 

In the 21-minute film, fast food enthusiast and amateur documentary maker, Kaitsu, and his one-man crew investigate the well-kept secrets behind the universal, and suspiciously Big-Mac-shaped ‘hamburger menu’ symbol, created by American interaction designer Norm Cox in 1981. 

shots caught up with the creatives at Nord DDB and Breakfast to find out how they brought the story to life. 

McDonald's – The Icon

powered by Source

Unlock full credits and more with a Source + shots membership.

powered by Source
Credits powered by Source

Firstly, this looks like it was an absolute blast to make! How did you come up with this idea?

Kalle Wallin, creative director of NORD DDB Helsinki: We had so much fun making this. We’re glad it shows on screen. It all started when we had the simple observation that the hamburger menu icon isn’t just any burger – it’s clearly a Big Mac. And from there we started thinking of different ways to tell it to the world. Finally asking the question, who should be the one telling it, opened a massive rabbit hole that we now call ‘The Big Mac Conspiracy’. 

What were the highlights and challenges of the project? 

Kalle Wallin: Big picture projects like this can be full of challenges, especially when everyone is pushing the work to be better at every stage, and usually coming over those challenges are the brightest highlights of the project. 

Henri Hämäläinen, EP of Breakfast Helsinki: Going to Dallas and shooting with Norm Cox was my highlight of this project. He was so into this and played along super well. I think the director and main character Eino Manner had the most challenging role since he was basically two weeks in the role as Kaitsu. 

How do you make a McDonald’s ad without it feeling like a McDonald’s ad? 

Hämäläinen: You choose a style and stick to it. And always when you start thinking about how to make this look better or more professional you need to remind yourself of the style you chose. 

Wallin: You need a lot of trust and support from the client to get to do this kind of stuff, as you essentially have less control with this type of method. In this case our client at McDonald’s very well understood the nature of the project and the soulscape of our protagonist, the conspiracy theorist Kaitsu, which allowed us to have a very organic process which resulted in a final product that feels very authentic. 

What is the creative process like for creating a mockumentary, from filming to editing?

Hämäläinen: It all goes down to the script writing process where the foundation of the film is created. As a starting point we had the first synopsis and a lot of elements to include in the mockumentary, but the compelling storyline was built together with the agency NORD DDB Helsinki, production company Breakfast Helsinki, director Eino Manner and screenwriter Andrew Rubin. Credibility for a mockumentary comes from the details and well-built characters. Instead of thinking how to do it, you need to think who’s doing this and how they would do it? What gear would they have available etc.

Did you have a film crew on hand, or was it really just Kaitsu and a cameraman? 

Wallin: Kaitsu and Johan are both actually Finnish film professionals. It was all shot by the awarded cinematographer Arsen Sarkisiants who’s playing the role of Johan, the cameraman, and directed by Eino Manner, who’s acting as Kaitsu. So yes, it was basically just Kaitsu and Johan shooting it.

Hämäläinen: We of course also had a small production service with an amazing local producer in Dallas who took care of us, but we wanted to keep the crew super small to be more flexible. With our small crew size, we got permission to for example shoot in a rodeo event.

Can you tell us more about Kaitsu’s character and his social media accounts?

Wallin: Kaitsu is weirdly charismatic and clearly born to be a leader. In the beginning of the project, he’s just a normal guy from Finland who has never really accomplished anything worth mentioning. But after successful investigations in Dallas, Kaitsu made a positive contribution to the world. On social media we have an extra layer of storytelling built around the character. Behind the scenes -material in his social media accounts deepens the story in an even more natural and authentic way. First, he tries to win the attention of McDonald’s, then makes the distribution deal with them and soon he’ll realise that he’s suddenly an international “star”.

How did you bring his character to life and make sure it felt authentic?

Wallin: We just let Kaitsu be Kaitsu. The actor (and director) Eino Manner has done a great job creating the character and does a phenomenal job in the role. When creating new content, we always ask ourselves if this is something Kaitsu would do, and if so, how would he do it.

How did you find a balance between making it feel improvised and authentic, while also making sure the jokes landed and the project was overall a success?

Wallin: There are some improvised jokes but most of it is written. After the thorough scriptwriting process together with the wonderful screenwriter Andrew Rubin, we had a clear plan on how we were going to use our limited shooting time. Also, Simo Liukka did an amazing job editing this piece together with a great sense of timing that makes the humour work the way it does.

Was Norman Cox in on the joke? If so, how did you get him on board, and if not - how did you get away with this?!

Wallin: Getting him on board wasn’t an issue at all. He was so into this and gave all his heart to this one. As a designer and creative professional himself, he immediately saw the potential of this conspiracy theory. What a great talent to work with.

Were there any funny unseen moments or incidents that were cut from the final film?

Hämäläinen: We shot a few scenes that didn’t end up in the final film. It is always good to have an editor who’s outside the shooting process, because it is hard to kill your darlings.

Will Kaitsu be going on any more McDonalds-related investigations in the future?

Wallin: We are not done yet with the Big Mac Conspiracy, but who knows what Kaitsu does next. He sure seems like a man who always has something cooking.

Hämäläinen: As an EP and Kaitsu’s agent, I’m ready to negotiate on a sequel.