McDonalds, We’ve Lost The Love

It was guilt-free, delicious and easy food. We’d have hamburgers, The Best Fries In the Whole World and creamy shakes, served with a side of friends and snort-through-your-nose laughter – frequently. We thought Michael Jordan could walk in at any moment (it might happen!) and steal our fries. We – and our moms – didn’t give eating at McDonalds a second thought.

Then it all changed. There was SuperSize Me and Pink Slime and Sugar Salt Fatand edible plastics and countless news exposes, articles and medical reports.

McDonalds took huge hit after huge hit and the brand became associated with obesity instead of friends, family and love. My own personal poll revealed comments such as “I detest it” and several “hardly ever go, just out of desperation.” Even the folks who do visit McDonalds more than once a week were hanging their heads in social media shame. There were quite a few people who admitted to loving the taste, but rarely going.

What ever happened to “I’m lovin’ it”? Clearly, most people aren’t.

Now, with this Super Bowl commercial, McDonalds is trying to get diners to feel the love again. The spot features cashiers explaining unusual forms of payment to buyers, including calling your mom, giving your family a hug, or telling your son what you love most about him. Like many McDonalds ads through the years (I’ve choked up at several), this is family-friendly, heartstring-tugging and sentimental.

But it’s not going to work to drive sales.

I’ll explain – My Millennium son has fought for fries over grains, cookies over fruit, and soda over water for decades. Now an adult and living on his own (food freedom!), he chooses to eat at McDonalds only once a month and “usually when everything else is closed.” He still eats burgers, but he frequents places that have a much stronger emphasis on health and freshness. He said, “I love McDonalds. It’s delicious, I don’t care who you’re talking to. If I could eat it every day, I’d eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner – every day. But I can’t. It’s horrible for you. I’m not going to do that to my body.”

And there, dear reader, is the crux of the matter. My junk food junkie has heard the health messages and has turned away from McDonalds. Aggressive advertising isn’t going to bring him back, price isn’t going to bring him back and dancing for a chicken sandwich is not going to bring him back. The only thing that’s going to bring him and the others who’ve walked away back to at least a weekly trip is a major menu adjustment.

Sometimes, advertising is just not the answer.

McDonalds, you should have spent your Super Bowl media money this year on retooling your food, going back to hamburgers, fries and shakes consumers will believe in. And then maybe we could all buy in to your message of love at Super Bowl 2016.

Your message will influence your brand, but your brand is determined by your audience. You must have a quality product backed by quality service at a fair price to build a solid brand. Need help with that? We assist with SWOT analyses too!

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