What Is McDonald’s?

My whole life, McDonald’s has been “the” fast food chain. It was the first, of course – the original chain burger joint. And for decades, they did a great job at it. No matter where you went, you could pop into a McDonald’s, grab a burger, fries, and a Coke and be satisfied with what you received. It was consistent – always the same, no matter where you went. It wasn’t fine dining; it was fast food.

Well, all that’s changed, I guess, but into what, I know not.

Yesterday, the Guardian.com reported that McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook admitted that his restaurant chain is “not on our game.” He said “The message is clear we are not on our game… We must improve, or we will be selling our customers short and leaving open opportunities for competitors.”

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He added that he has a plan to “shape McDonald’s future as a modern, progressive burger company,” and by progressive, he means the company would be “anticipating the needs of our customers tomorrow.” Wow – that’s deep. Since he went into no detail regarding his progressive plan, we are left with the notion that this is all marketing nonsense and doublespeak.

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Now, I’m no marketing genius, but I know what I want and expect when I go to McDonald’s, or to any fast food eatery. It’s what most people want and expect – a good burger, good french fries, and something to wash them down with. My kids have always had that same expectation.

Yet, back a few years ago, in 2011, McDonald’s was pressured by food Nazis to clean up their act and stop marketing “junk food” to impressionable children. So the Happy Meal of which my kids were so fond growing up morphed into some lame, politically correct icon of the nanny state, thrusting Apple slices and milk on mine and millions of other kids.

When was the last time you saw a McDonald’s commercial that advertised a burger and fries. Now it’s all sunshine, lollipops (sugar-free of course), apples, and milk.

And they wonder why they’ve lost market share. They could have told the tiny group of food Nazis to go pound sand, but like a lot of American business, my guess is they are scared to death of the Obama administration and his jackbooted regulators.

If you were an alien who saw American television for the first time, you would never know McDonald’s sold anything but apples and milk. Whereas, Wendy’s sells huge burgers with lots of condiments on pretzel buns and Carl’s Junior appears to be the place where bikini-clad models consume large, beef-laden sandwiches.

McDonald’s appears to be the only one who has caved to the pressure. Maybe because it’s the biggest and thus an easy number one target, but, in my opinion, it must be a contributing factor to losing market share and profits.

I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that unless Mr. Easterbrook wises up, stops compromising, and begins a return to what made McDonald’s a success, he can try all the “progressive” nonsense he wants – they won’t regain market share.

McDonald’s isn’t Whole Foods – it’s a fast food burger joint. At least, it used to be.

Oh, and another thing. Here’s a market share building tip: bring back the old french fry cooking oil that was so yummy. You know – now that the latest science has debunked the whole heart healthy myth that it’s bad for you.

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