Last month, McDonald's made a big announcement that surprised a lot of people: It revealed that it would stop lobbying against increases in the minimum wage.

In truth, this probably was a lost cause anyway: the $15 minimum wage has broad support, and it will probably become law within the next few years.

Besides, there's not much point in pushing for a lower minimum wage when your competitors in the employment market, like Amazon, are voluntarily paying $15 or more. 

But there might be other ways for McDonald's to recruit and retain good workers that go beyond the hourly salary. At least, that's what McDonald's and other employers hope.

Apply with a friend

Now, McDonald's has unveiled a series of TV ads that are garnering some acclaim -- and that might be revealing a key strategy.

Running in Canada, they're part of a series that the world's largest fast food chain and its ad agency call, "Friends Wanted."

The ads feature two young McDonald's employees who are clearly friends from outside work. In one ad they consult each other about a weird order, in another they talk about going to a party, and in a third, they make up goofy nametags and laugh incessantly about them.

It's all cuter than I'm making it sound. 

"One of the key benefits of working at a McDonald's restaurant is the camaraderie among crew members," Antoinette Benoit, CMO of McDonald's Canada told AdWeek. 

'The most endearingly Canadian way'

McDonald's north of the border also held a virtual hiring fair called "Snapplications" last month. 

"It's a simple but powerful shift that has the potential to not just double the number of potential applications, but makes the idea of working with friends real," Jordan Hammer, associate creative director for McDonalds' Canada's ad agency, Cossette, said.

I know this is a very Canadian strategy. In fact, one commentator called the idea of recruiting friends to work together like this, "the most endearingly Canadian way possible."

But it's also a familiar tactic to anyone who's served in the U.S. military, especially in the last decade or so. 

The Battle Buddy Program

The U.S. Army and to a lesser extent the other services have had a program in place for years, on or off, that allows friends and even married couples to enlist together.

The Battle Buddy program promises to keep people who enlist together -- well, together -- from basic training through their first duty station, and even combat deployments to places like Afghanistan.

"They don't want to leave friends and family," Kellli Brand, a spokeswoman for Army recruiting told USA Today in 2015, when the program was revived after a long hiatus.

OF course, there are some big differences between working at McDonald's and joining the military. For one thing, you can't just decide to quit the army if it turns out you don't like it.

But both McD's and the military understand one key thing: If you want to recruit good people, salary might get them in the door. But it's the experience of working with you that will make the best ones stick around a while.