If you’ve been paying attention in one way or another, you might know that McDonald’s is hemorrhaging buckazoids quite rapidly now and that they’re pretty much desperate for a dose of anything that might stave off the final demise of their ailing brand. If not, you might have noticed their advertising to have taken a strange turn, lately, toward offering all sorts of concessions to their customers and a range of gimmicks chosen according to how likely they are to negate whatever negative stereotypes about the brand the board considers salient.
“How very ‘un-McDonald’s!”
That’s one of the current slogans and gets frequently paired with imagery that, indeed, does appear very unMcDonald’s. Unfortunately, despite the innovation, it fails to appeal. It’s good to see that they’re trying, but the desperation is too thinly veiled for one to not feel vicariously the sting of failure. But, what the hell is going on here?
Why is McDonald’s failing?
To be honest, I don’t know for sure. I’ve been writing a little about it for other people in the context of competition within the fast food landscape, and the answer that I usually trot out is something like “millennials (haha) prefer healthy food options”. The evidence for this is that Subway, which branded itself from the beginning as the healthy alternative (Jared and all that), now holds the #1 spot on the burger franchise leaderboard, having stolen it from McD’s a few years back.
But, I’m not personally convinced that’s exactly why. After all, in response to the growing wave of health-consciousness that has been sweeping in for at least 30 years now, McDonalds did respond by providing healthier meal options. Salads and the like.
However, well – I don’t know about you, but I’ve never bought a salad there. Why? Because why would I? I know what McDonald’s is about, and it’s not salads. It’s about Cheeseburgers, Quarter Pounders, Big Macs, Filet-O-Fishes, Fries and Cokes. What’s the secret ingredient? Animal fat and cheapness. Buying a salad from McDonalds feels about as incongruous as trying to buy a box of cookies at a library. That goes for almost everything else on the menu apart from the core items, too. It’s just not what they do well, and everybody knows it!
Truth be told, they don’t do the core items well, either. It’s the kind of food that is only edible for a few minutes after emerging from the microwave, and even then only when you’re ravenous. But, that’s good enough for me when I’m at my lowest, which in the past has been frequently. And, it’s cheap and well who knows exactly, possibly some kind of black magic or just because it’s “the way it’s always been”. I.e., nostalgia. Anyway, something has kept these items saleable after all these years, and I don’t have the figures but I’d wager that the bulk of their sales are of the core menu.
We’re just sick of it now
So, every day now McDonald’s seems to be adding something new or making other alterations to its menu and brand identity, presumably in the hope that they’ll luck upon something that just happens to save the day.
But, that’s not going to happen.
It’s not going to happen because their entire business is actually based on little more than that small selection of burgers that has been sustaining them all along. And now, it appears humanity is finally sick of them.
It probably has had a lot to do with Mickey D’s being the go-to whipping boy for everything bad about fast food in the same way that the extent to which Coca Cola is bad for you is no greater than any other sugary carbonated drink, but it kind of sounds like it is, right? Of course.
The clown who cried wolf
It doesn’t match the fable exactly, but one thing we most certainly have learnt over the past couple of decades is that should McDonald’s add something to its menu, it’s likely to be just as crap as their burgers but lack whatever magic goes into convincing us to buy them despite our better judgement. I.e., no one will buy them more than once, usually.
So, try as they might, now, to convince us that they’ve turned over a new leaf as pertains to upping their quality and gustatory standards, that ship sailed eons ago. Now, all that’s left to do is to watch it realize that, like King Kong, you can’t withstand a barrage of bullets for eternity, no matter how tiny they are.
At the moment, though, they remind me of a mouse thrown into the tank of a snapping turtle and, despite having been almost instantly bitten in half, swim vigorously as a torso towards the surface to which one astute Youtuber commented: “They don’t realize that they’re already dead :(” <- I was going to link something here, but it’s really gross and disturbing. Just search if you’re interested.