Ronald gets a McMakeover


Fast food retailer McDonald‘s is overhauling its marketing recipe in an attempt to transform the restaurant‘s image.

Following a gradual renovation over the past few years, McDonald‘s has desperately sought to turn around the restaurant‘s reputation from clownish to stylish, taking lead from its largest competitor Starbucks. Now ranking third behind McDonald‘s and Subway as the biggest U.S. chain restaurant, Starbucks‘ success derives from the consumers‘ comfortable ability to sign in to Wi-Fi and relax for the afternoon. Many McDonald‘s customers, however, pass through without even leaving their cars.

The company saw an increase in sales after a $1bn renovation plan was unveiled in 2011, ridding restaurants of the trademark red and yellow interior, and replacing it with a Starbucks-style café feel using faux leather and glass. McDonald‘s has also taken to the social media world in conjunction with the brand‘s transformation, with Ronald himself interacting via Twitter with a new, more professional look.

In recent years, concerns over nutrition and the influence on children‘s diets has caused a further slope. Revealing its worst monthly U.S. sales decline in more than a decade, McDonald‘s sales fell by 4.6% in November 2014 alone, more than double the expected decline.

As conscious eating has become increasingly significant, food scandals including the China meat scare of July last year have equally taken effect. American owned supplier Shanghai Husi Food was suspended by regulators after a local media report claimed the company re-processed out-of-date meat. Nearly 500 stores in China and Japan had McChicken Nuggets removed from the menu, with Big Macs and McSpicy Wings also discontinued in some cities. The affected markets accounted for 10% of McDonald‘s revenues.

With brand renovation now its prime focus, customers will have witnessed a change in McDonald‘s advertising strategy, and an attempt to expand its own McCafé coffee business. Nodding to the widespread coffee culture of the 21st century taking over from fast food, McDonald‘s top priority of 2014, according to the U.S. sales strategy, was to boost “coffee-driven visits.” This is evident through their most recent coffee campaign, which shows parallel lives all interacting over a coffee.

The most notable change set for 2015, however, is the modification of McDonald‘s marketing campaign. Now updating from its famous, decade old slogan, “I‘m Lovin‘ It”, McDonald‘s has unveiled new adverts that expand upon the “Lovin‘” focus of the campaign. The latest advert shows odd characters coming together in harmony and ends with the phrase “Choose Lovin.‘” Striving to avoid negativity and be more associated with love, McDonald‘s uses emotional grounding similar to Coca Cola, which promotes goodwill through its marketing campaign, “Share Happiness.”

Deborah Wahl, Chief Marketing Officer of McDonalds, described how the company wants to gain a closer relationship with customers, moving from “billions served to billions heard,” while also stating that “this new focus will inspire everything we do moving forward, from advertising and marketing to how we interact with customers in restaurants and on social media.”

Equally encouraging customers to ask questions about the restaurant‘s food, McDonald‘s has created a social media campaign for food inquiries, looking to promote healthier and fresher food in 2015. McDonald‘s started the trend by posting “what part of the chicken is a Chicken McNugget?”

By taking on a more light-hearted and upbeat marketing campaign, McDonald‘s attempts to diminish negativity are clear, as they seek to stir-up a fresh positivity to their reputation, food and brand as a whole.