McDonald’s, in its latest push to convince people between the ages of 18 and 34 that it doesn’t stink, has redesigned its bags. The look is trendy minimalist, part Matisse cut-out and part Merrie Melodie.
The bags are also indicative of McDonald’s persistent cluelessness.
The corporation — which is actually more of a real-estate company than a restaurant chain — seems to believe that the reason its overall profits are down 30 percent is image. Image is certainly a problem but the issue is the food. The cheeseburgers are still warmed-over sodium pucks. Bag aesthetic will not change that.
The millennial dollar for which McDonald’s so yearns isn’t an easy woo. Millennials, despite what a lot of people think, are sometimes smart. They will not be plied by cosmetics, build-a-burger options and more coffee — at least in the case of McDonald’s.
That is an important caveat because of course they can be plied by cosmetics. All people can. But McDonald’s reputation is just so bad that it will take more than a new wrapper and a fancy touch-screen ordering device to proselytize its most-coveted demographic.
Better food would help. So would cleaner restaurants and hiring employees who seem to care, giving the impression that your food doesn’t have pee in it. (Of course to have employees who care, you must pay them something reasonable and then treat them like human beings and not assembly-line components.)
McDonald’s image problem is that its food is more process than meat, or potato, or whatever you’re told it is. And it doesn’t help that McDonald’s is abominable to its employees, circus-contorting itself through very small hoops to not pay livable wages or for healthcare.
Younger people — in my anecdotal experience — have shown that they will turn away from businesses they deem ethically abhorrent. Chick-fil-A, Walmart, etc.
To fix its image, McDonald’s must fix its food. A Domino’s-style nuclear do-over could be the best option. McDonald’s, instead of using its PR might to insist its food won’t explode your heart with diabetes and gout, should admit that maybe what it serves in those pretty new bags really isn’t that good. Treating its employees better would be nice, too.
Sins must be confessed to be forgiven.