advertising / consumer lessons

French Fries

I was at McDonald’s® today and decided to read the marketing on the box of fries included with my meal. They said:

Why are our fries
the gold standard?
Because only a select
number of potato
varieties make the cut.
i’m lovin’ it®

French-fry fumble.While I am not the biggest fan of McDonald’s® I do find their playarea to be a convenient place to sit and talk with my wife without the need for a babysitter. Reading this sparked a whole new conversation about the arrogance and misguided thoughts of their marketing team. Let me break it down.

Why are our fries the gold standard? – I was not aware of a standard for french fries. My favorite french fries are from Jack In The Box. I decided to look it up when I got home and there already are Gold Standard French Fries so the MD team are just jerks saying “we’re the best” without anything to back it up.

Because only a select number of potato varieties make the cut. – Yes there are 58 varieties of potatoes and 30 of these have white flesh to them, but only 5 of these varieties are good for making french fries. Few means “not many, but more than one.” Even using the minimum definition they’re still using 40% of the available varieties of potatoes. Select few?

i’m lovin’ it® – Lovin’ what? Bad grammer, spelling and punctuation? How about loving the ability to make stupid claims that don’t mean anything? I’ve really hated this slogan, it’s an attempt to say “we’re one of you” by using bad speaking habits of urban America. What’s worse is this is the longest running slogans they’ve ever had and this is the one they stick with? Especially when they had so many better ones in the past. Who can forget: We love to see you smile (2000-2002), Have you had your break today? (1995-1997), What you want is what you get (1992-1995), Lets eat out! (1960-1965) and my favorite McDonald’s and you (1983-1984).

I am a marketer by trade, so bad advertizing really gets to me. I might’ve been able to ignore it except for the fact that I then looked it up and found this tasty tidbit:

“Our new packaging is a fresh way of sharing McDonald’s food quality story with our customers. The more people know about our food the more they’ll love it.” -Mary Dillon, McDonald’s® Global Chief Marketing Officer

Ok, you want to tell people about your food. You didn’t say anything! What about other products? Like Chicken McNuggets:

Whichever way you enjoy your McNuggets®
it’s good to know that they’re made
with white chicken breast meat.

So is Kentucky Fried, Church’s and Popeye’s Chicken. They don’t feel the need to tell us. A person does not buy a pre-formed chicken-nugget and demand to know what is in it. They are happy enough to know that if there was something wrong with it that MD would fork out a couple of million dollars in settlement (like the coffee lady).

I think that marketing should be somewhat straight forward in it’s approach. Cover the points of interest in the product. Why would someone want to go to McDonald’s?

  • The food – Nope, there are much better options in the same price range.
  • The price – Wrong again. For the same price elsewhere we can get much better than the substandard MD line.
  • Convenience – Surprisingly this is wrong too. Most better food chains are just as convenient. Plus there are local competitors that better know the local palette.
  • Play Area & Happy Meals – Ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

Go to any MDs and measure the patrons over the course of the day and you will find that a majority of their clientele are moms with children. It’s a free indoor playground with a food court attached. That’s why we go and we often are annoyed that other places don’t offer the same service.

Then one day out of the blue my wife says “too bad we’re stuck with McDonald’s food when we go there” and it hits me. No, we’re not stuck with their food. We went to Taco Bell, bought food for ourselves, went to MDs, bought a 10 piece McNugget meal and ate our food in the play area. Victory! Unfortunately if everyone does that they might go out of business. Oh well, such is life.

2 Comments

  1. Great post Evan… I am with you , Jack in the Box has way better fries.

    In fact I can’t think of one thing that is “better” at McD’s than anywhere else… and the ones around here don’t even have play areas… but the Carl’s Jr p the block has one : )

    /craving a western bacon cheeseburger now.

    /curse you.

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