Friday, January 8, 2010

Why McDonald's Will Never Be Successful

Granted, the headline might be a tad dramatic -- and not quite accurate. Considering that McDonald's has 31,000 locations in 118 countries, I begrudgingly concede that it might be successful already. Their restaurants serve about 58 million people a day.  Not bad. I wouldn't mind having that many daily hits on my blog.

Before I go further, yes, yes, I know,  you never eat at McDonald's.  Just like you don't shop at Target.  Neither do I.  Let's proceed under that pretense, but hear me out anyway. 

This is a McDonald's, for those of  you who don't know what one looks like, since you don't eat there.  I'll bet your kids would recognize it.  And I think you would recognize it under different circumstances.  Like, say, if you were drunk late one night and out with friends.  This particular McDonald's is on Fulton Street in Manhattan.  None of those people gave me permission to take their picture, but their backs are to the camera, so screw 'em.

Do you remember little old Clara Peller, the woman who screamed "Where's the beef?!!" in 1980s Wendy's commercials?

If Clara, who, I believe, ate too much beef and died of colon cancer a while back, were here today to bellow her signature line, I'd have a response:  "The beef's right here, it's between me and McDonald's!!!!" (I went with four exclamation points because I'm really mad...)   

Allow me to explain.  Calmly, I promise.

The "Green Revolution" is everywhere.  All of America, and the world, really, wants to be "green."  It's hip, cool, stylish, in vogue...whatever you want to call it.  Green is definitely "in." Save the Earth, it's the only one we have. You've seen the t-shirts, I'm sure.  All wise sayings end up on t-shirts eventually.

I came up with an excellent "green" idea that could save McDonald's millions of dollars over time. Literally, millions of dollars.  And it would be good for the Earth.  It would also promote McDonald's image as a "green company," something that all businesses want to do.  Also, customers would feel like they're doing their part to help the environment.  Making your customers feel good is smart business.  

In short, this is a win/win/win/win idea all the way around.  I could've added more /wins to that sentence, but I didn't want to exaggerate. It's a four-way win, at least, believe me.  And my fee for bringing this great idea to McDonald's: NOTHING.  I don't want a dime, I just want to help the environment and stop waste. I don't even want recognition (other than what I'm getting on this well-read blog.)  What more could McDonald's want?  It's a  free four-way win.  Slam dunk, right?  Wrong. 

Now to the idea (sometimes I get carried away with the build-up.)

If you purchase a "meal" at McDonald's, you'll get something resembling this:

Notice the big cardboard French fry box.  Ironically, the soda cup contains a statement saying that McDonald's is working to reduce paper waste.  LIARS! 

MY IDEA:  Give customers who are going to eat on premises the option of having their French fries placed directly into the top of the burger box.  Simple.  

By doing this, McDonald's would: 1) save the cost of a French fry box; 2) reduce landfill waste; 3) reduce the number of trees cut down to make French fry boxes; and 4) produce a myriad of other benefits, such as reducing the number of boxes of supplies that must be trucked around the country, thereby saving fuel.

The benefits to McDonald's and the Earth are plentiful. And the customer would feel good about saving a fry box from the eco-system. McDonald's could create a clever phrase for ordering this way.  For example, "I'll have the number four meal and make it Eco-Friendly."  Or "I'll have a Green Meal number six."

I'm sure they have a an army of advertising and marketing people who can figure something out.  I can't do everything for them.

Here's what an eco-friendly Green Meal would look like:

Folks, that's not an artist's rendition, that's an actual Green Meal as photographed by your LG Report blogger.  Astute readers may notice a few fries missing. I'm sure they fell out in the bag, I certainly didn't eat them.

Burp. Ok, you got me again.

You would think that the McDonald's Corporation would be eager to solicit innovative ideas like this from customers...err, I mean bloggers.  Again, I don't eat there.

Well guess what, if you thought that you'd be WRONG! 

Go to the McDonald's website and you'll see a Frequently Asked Questions Link.  You can actually click on that highlighted phrase to the left and get there, I just figured out how to insert links.  The training wheels are coming off folks!  

On that page you'll find a line saying:

1. How do I share an idea with McDonald's about a new product, service, promotional concept or other innovation that I believe would benefit McDonald's?

Here's a perfect example of big American corporation stupidity.  Take note folks.  When you click on that link, you are told:

It is our company’s policy not to consider unsolicited ideas from outside the McDonald’s system.
Translation: "Talk to the hand, because the face don't go away."

Why in the world wouldn't McDonald's just say "We do not accept outside suggestions" on the FAQ page?  By luring people into a link that shoots them down, they're just creating badwill. 
If McDonald's were in the Corporate America playpen, it would be the company eating its crayons.  Super-sized crayons.  

So there doesn't seem to be a way to get my idea across.  Last August, I met the owner of seven McDonald's franchises at a social event.  He introduced himself by saying, "Hi, I own seven McDonald's franchises." That's what tipped me off (true story.)  I breathlessly told him my idea, only to have him poo poo it for no discernable reason.  He couldn't articulate any grounds for wasting all of those fry boxes.  I'm pretty sure he didn't like the idea only because it didn't have Corporate McDonald's approval.  

Brainwashed much?  

My guess as to why McDonald's wouldn't implement my idea, even if they heard about it, is explained on the company's website:

Here at McDonald's, packaging is more than paper--it's a unique opportunity to make meaningful connections with more than 58 million people worldwide every day. Extending story and quality through one of our most visible mediums, we're moving forward in the areas that matter to you, our customer. Whether you're curious about our ingredients, or the freshness of our food, or committed to more environmentally responsible practices, our main goal is to meet you where you are. Research confirms that the new packaging conveys honesty and openness with customers and reminds them of our food’s quality and freshness.

"Packaging is the ideal place to tell stories," says Matt Biespiel, McDonald's Senior Director of Global Brand Strategy, "...whether our customers are eating in, driving thru, or having food delivered." In a market full of mixed messaging, where consumers are bombarded with advertising hundreds of times every day, our focus is on consistency and honesty, and building trust. This sensitivity, says Biespiel, "carries consistent brand messaging around quality and builds brand trust by encouraging people to learn more about the food they love."

They want to use packaging to enhance their image and "get their message across" to consumers.  Meanwhile, millions of French fry boxes are being needlessly manufactured and discarded, killing trees and burdening landfills.

I'm going to boycott McDonald's!!!

Unless, of course, I'm really hungry and it's convenient at the time.  But I'll definitely ask them to put the fries in the burger box.  That will make me feel good.

Reader mail is cascading into our offices (if you believe that the LG Report has "offices," then I'd advise you to not read any e-mails from Nigeria), so we thought we'd answer a letter today.

Dear LG Report,

I see that you write about your famous Hollywood friends like, Martin Scorsese and Eugene Levy, but how about a blog posting on a slice of good ole Americana for the rest of us?

Norman Rockwell III
Las Vegas, NV

I'm glad that you wrote Mr. Rockwell.  It just so happens that tomorrow night The LG Report will be at the Troop 4222 Pinewood Derby.  We'll recap the action in a Sunday posting.  Here's a picture of the formidible line-up of cars produced by John O'Connell Racing, a leading team:

The second car from the right won John a trophy for Most Original Design a couple of years ago (it has a scary monster mouth with sharp teeth painted on it, but that's not very visible in this photo; the photographer was aftraid to get too close.)

The aerodynamically designed vehicle on the left willl be Team O'Connell's entry in this year's race.  Experts think the lack of paint will reduce drag on the car, but we can only speculate.  The designer was in bed last night at 8:30 pm when we tried to contact him.  Good luck Team O'Connell!

Until next time kids, have a good one.


  1. Elgin,

    Brillant McDonald's idea!!! I haven't eaten there since 1986, but I'm sure my niece and nephew will want to be on the green team!! Thanks for sharing!!! (You can never have too many !! I think)

  2. I thought your post of "In and Out Burger" being neither "In" nor "Out" was a much more insightful post....JJ

  3. I can't beliEVE you were right down the block and didn't come say hello!!

  4. I have a beef with the beef, it is the real problem for the environment. Why not a soy burger? I probably takes about 10 units of soy protein to create 1 unit of beef protein. If you need some animal protein why bot skip the beef, bun, and special sauce and keep the potato, but bake it, along with the cheese, and pickles. But for me, make that raclette cheese.


The LG Report appreciates all comments, thanks for taking the time; Karma will probably award you a winning lotter ticket or something. The "or something" being more likely. But thanks again!