Monday, March 26, 2012

New c.e.o. in the drive-through lane.

          The big business news here in Chicago is that McDonald's has a new big cheese. The chief executive, Jim Skinner, is retiring, and Don Thompson will be taking over. Everyone's worried that McDonald's will be taking their eyes off the fries.

          As someone put it in the newspaper, nobody coming to McDonald's wants new fries. They want fresh fries. Don't change too much; just keep improving everything. Under the previous c.e.o., the mission was to emphasize quality, not quantity. Not growth. It's resulted in 10 straight years of growth anyway.

           A previous marketing director claims part of the growth has been due to the chain's tagline, "I'm lovin' it". He says that line speaks to the customers' desires instead of the company's. It think it speaks to nobody.

           When "I'm lovin' it" was introduced as a new slogan, they said the beauty of it was that it could go at the end of any commercial. That's its weakness. It says nothing. It refuses to offer a unique promise about McDonalds. It's what we call transferable --- it could be used for any product, from BP gasoline to Drano.

           When McDonalds first started advertising, they had a big idea. "You deserve a break today." McD was the perfect place for it: quick, economical, and offering tasty food.

             Today, that tagline may not work. The ex-marking director says that today we know we need a break, but why go to McDonald's? I don't think that you'll want to go there because I'm lovin' it. Who am I to put words in your mouth when you really crave fresh fries?

             Good luck, McDonald's. We're with you as you go to healthier, more nutritional items on the menu. Just don't take your eyes off the fries.

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