When talking about McDonald’s, you might say: yeah that’s whom millions of obese kids and adults in American should sue. Well, to be honest, I almost said this in class one time. But there was some Americans sitting around me, so I refrained myself to avoid being beaten up.
Not going to talk much about it, I’m just going to write down some of my thoughts on this brand, or to be more precise, the “McDonalds’ phenomenon.”
There are never lacking of criticisms against it, from its founding. Old McDonald’s commercials are nowadays put online. Through our sight some of them are particularly questionable, like the one where a small boy runs into Ronald McDonald and tells him “Mom told me not to talk to strangers.” and then the weird-looking clown said “I’m Ronald McDonald and I will prove myself.” Then he just magically gives three hamburgers to the kid. Finally this kid believes the clown and goes to a McDonald’s restaurant with him, saying that “You are no stranger! You are McDonald!” Needless to say how much would moms worry about their kids taken away by bad guys who would dressing up like Roland McDonald. However, no complaint from this heard, so it might have turned out just fine.
Running from 1940s till today, McDonald’s has been always there, an example of successful business. Although it has been, as much as its success, hard and constantly criticised. Taking a more recent example, the “going green” of McDonald’s is absolutely not a voluntarily move. Vegetarianism spreads wold-widely. Anti-gene-manipulationism (especially in Europe) influences on the society and the market. McDonald’s needed to take a chance to change, for no noble reasons but just survival.
I don’t believe as a company McDonald’s could care less than anything about “going green.” One plays as one’s role. Being a free-market player means changing along with the prevailing ideas (or dynamic social philosophies) as a crucial way to survive in this fiercely competitive environment.
But, my point is, McDonald’s is indeed a very successful business. A business that is always so controversial that you always would think “ok this time McDonald’s really screwed.” But it could always survive from any kind of criticism bomb. Why?
1948-Speedee Service System
To answer this question, we would have to go back to some dull history of the prevailing ideas throughout (mainly American) the world, or “the globe”, which is more appropriate to present era. At the beginning of its founding in 1940s until 1990 (“Food, folks and fun”), McDonald’s, which was named “Speedee Service System” at that time emphasising its fast-food feature, used to build up its image as a place where people can have fast but delicious food, gather together with friends and family and have a relaxing time (“You deserve a break today” 1971, “Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun”1975, “Good time, great taste” 1988, “Food, folks and fun” 1990). Afterwards its slogans appeared to turn into a individualistic direction. (“What you want is what you get at McDonald’s today.”1991-92, “We love to see/make you smile” 2000, “i’m lovin’ it” which the Justin Timberlake made the slogan song, quite catchy, in 2003 till now.) It started as a fast-food service restaurant since in the mid-20th century vastly built highways and ubiquitously used automobiles gave it a very smart entrance to America. Later, realising their food were most attractive to kids, needless to mention kid is the centre for a nuclear family, McDonald’s put their main marketing focus on children. But not to mention too much fun for kids to scare off the adults and to also attract parents, McDonald’s promoted itself as a place for family and friends bonding restaurant, where all of them can have fun and “smile”. McDonald’s achieved to be a global player in various cultures. McFalafel burger in Egypt,
McTurco – a flat bread burger in Turkey,
McEgg in McDonald’s Sabah
— these are only some of many examples. Adapting to the rise of sense of “self” and individualism, McDonald’s had Justin Timberlake sing a theme song. You can watch the music video here. As it enters the 21th century, more and more people started to pay attention on environmental issues, food sources and safety, and the production procedure of products. Complaints flooded the brand with ethnical and even legal issues. What should the company do is what it has been doing for over 70 years — sensing the alterations of the rule and playing within it. McDonald’s is “somewhere can be TRUST.” This has to be protected.
I’m not approving every food on McDonald’s menu. I definitely would not allow my kids to eat too much fried stuff there, no matter their oil is organic or not, no matter their chicken was happy before being butchered or not. But it is indeed a good business which endures through a long time. Its model has been adapted by different other enterprises and takes a place in a business school text book. I have to admit, that is something pretty cool.