Go Big or Go Golden: The Rebranding of a Fast Food Giant

McDonald’s: Land of the fruit and home of the salad. Wait, something seems a bit off. When we think of McDonald’s, dollar menu visions dance across our minds—delightfully greasy double cheeseburgers with super-sized sides and Diet Cokes comparable to the human head.
Jason Notte / money.msn.com

Jason Notte / money.msn.com

As the largest fast food chain on the planet, McDonald’s has built a reputation for selling fast, unhealthy, calorie-packed meals. Just as Jessica Simpson once mused, is this cardboard or is this beef? We’re not quite sure, but it’s delicious.

McDonald’s has felt the pressure in recent years to provide healthier, nutritional alternatives for meals and to discontinue marketing unhealthy options to children. Why the dramatic change? The Golden Arches house the largest fast food chain in the world. The decision for health was influenced by the Clinton Foundation’s campaign to reduce childhood obesity, a problem that has ballooned into an epidemic in the United States. Consequently, McDonald’s joined forces to cater to health-conscious customers. The healthy alternatives menu will give diners the options of substituting fruits and veggies for fries as well as food options that are lower in fat, salt and  sugar—a lean, mean arch enemy to our fatty friend Big Mac (with extra Mac sauce).
The new menu changes will be implemented to twenty of McDonald’s largest dominating markets accounting for over 85 percent of sales worldwide, which may take three or more years to put into play. Changes may not be made until 2022 for the remainder of McDonald’s restaurants.
With new menu changes comes a brand new set of marketing tools. From menu boards to television advertising campaigns, McDonald’s will have to innovatively display their new healthy options if they hope to significantly impact the behavior of young people. Will the rebranding process have the power to reshape the culture of their key demographic?
As McDonald’s is stepping up to shrink childhood obesity, will the fast food giant lose business from grease gobblers or hit the jackpot by showing love to lean, green-eating machines? Can Subway and other fast food restaurants hold their own against McDonald’s with existing healthy menus or will the Golden Arches rise above?
Perhaps these ideas are best marinated with a fruit and yogurt parfait or side salad.

 

Sources
Boston Globe
NY Times

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