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Ronald McDonald is back in da house


Not sure if you’ve noticed…but oddly enough, McDonald’s has been popping up in the news a lot lately.

It’s as though their PR and marketing teams are trying to change the greater audience’s perspective of the world’s largest hamburger fast food chain.

Nation’s Restaurant News were the first to report that

The red-headed clown, McDonald’s mascot for decades, will star in several new commercials advertising Happy Meals, encouraging children to visit the HappyMeal.com website, where they can upload pictures of themselves to be integrated into Ronald McDonald videos, a McDonald’s Corp. representative said Friday.

It will be interesting to see if McDonald’s can bring the children of this great tech age, to love the mascot that we all grew up with.

Further, as quoted in the WSJ:

The idea to instill demand directly in children, who will then pressure their parents, clearly works, Mr. Hanft [chief executive of marketing firm Hanft Projects] said. “But the problem with creating these little armies of kids is that you turn the parents against the brand,” he added.

On Tuesday, NYC Councilman Leroy Comrie announced:

his plan to introduce legislation that would ban toys from being included in unhealthy meals at fast food restaurants.

His proposed bill

would prohibit restaurants from distributing toys or other knickknacks geared toward children in meals that have more than 500 calories, 600 milligrams of sodium and 35 percent of calories from fat, excluding nuts, seeds and nut butters.

According to data compiled by Comrie’s office, McDonald’s Happy Meal contains 1,090 calories, Burger King’s Kid’s Meal contains 1,460 calories, Wendy’s kid’s portion meal contains 1,080 calories and KFC’s Kid Meal contains 680 calories.

If you recall my previous post No More Happy Meal toys for you (children in San Fran), in November of last year, San Francisco was the first US city to ban restaurants giving free toys with meals.

But not to end on a completely sour note for Ronald…the company formally announced its plan to hire 50,000 new US workers on April 19th.

McDonald’s said the hiring blitz would increase its U.S. workforce by 7.7 percent to 700,000 — which is no different from prior summer staff increases.

So what have we learned from all of this?  Just like any business in the marketplace, every company (established or not) has to revamp its marketing once-in-a-while (Ronald), and spend money (hire people), in order to compete and stay top-of-mind.

(Note: I tried to find a copy of the commercial online to no avail…so instead I leave you with one from the 80’s).

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Filed under: Business, Food, Marketing, , , , , , ,

Product placement, Oprah style


Talk about awkward product placement

In a lead-up to her Ultimate Australian Adventure, Oprah Winfrey last week aired Oprah’s Aussie Countdown, which featured a segment with a report by Australian TV personality Carrie Bickmore. Ms. Bickmore’s report, meant to educate the audience on Australian culture, sparked an upset when she said Australians like to spend time at “hip hangouts” called McDonald’s.

How’s that for a slap in the face?  I guess Harpo execs think that their target audience is a bit slow on the uptake.  Come on..really?  Hip hangouts called McDonald’s??

In shocking news..

A spokesman for Harpo confirmed that McDonald’s was a sponsor for the Aussie Countdown episode, along with Qantas (an audience member received a free trip for two to Australia), Motorola (audience members received free phones) and Tourism Australia, which is covering the ground costs of the visit (no money is going directly to Harpo).

Had the production team given this a little more thought, I’m completely convinced that they could have come up with a better way to incorporate McDonald’s into the show.

Filed under: Business, Food, Marketing, , , , , , , , , ,

What’s your burger’s carbon FOODprint?


A popular food chain in Sweden – Max Burgers, which is second-largest to McDonald’s in its area, is taking food labeling to that next level.

Richard Bergfors, CEO of Max Burgers says

adding the carbon footprint to the chain’s menuboard was a way for the company to be honest about its affect on the environment.

According to an article in Scientific American Magazine, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report found that with regards to beef production,

…current production levels of meat contribute between 14 and 22 percent of the 36 billion tons of “CO2-equivalent” greenhouse gases the world produces every year.

In layman’s terms:

…producing half a pound of hamburger for someone’s lunch a patty of meat the size of two decks of cards releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles.

[A Jeep Cherokee weighs nearly 3,000 lbs… just for visual reference.]

Trying to show its customers that there are yummy alternatives to beef burgers

Max Burgers has rolled out several alternative, climate-friendly burger options, including vegetarian, falafel, and salmon burgers. Since putting carbon dioxide emission counts on the menuboard—an act that made it the first restaurant chain in the world to do so—sales of these types of menu items have gone up 20 percent.

In addition, Max Burger offsets its carbon emissions by planting trees in Africa, uses recycled packaging, and gets its electricity from wind and solar power.

Like it or not, climate change is definitely a big issue that needs to be dealt with.  I’m hoping that other countries follow Sweden’s lead.

Bra jobbat Sverige! (Good job Sweden! …thank you Google Translate).

Filed under: Business, Green, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I now pronounce you husband and wife. Would you like fries with that?


And I thought that drive-thru weddings in Las Vegas were out-of-the ordinary… but apparently in Hong Kong, you can now get married at McDonald’s.

You may be thinking this is just some marketing gimmick, but actually it’s what the people want.

People said they’d dated here, or met here, and wanted to get married here…

Sadly, due to the awesome economy, we are all now living in –

“The social mobility and incomes of young Hongkongers have fallen,” said poverty researcher Chua Hoi-wai of the Hong Kong Council of Social Service. “They have saved money for years and can’t buy flats when they get married.”

So what better way to celebrate your wedding?

It’s cost-effective – only $400 for the ceremony & reception for 100 guests, and it’s symbolic (you met there).

The only downside, the celebration is alcohol-free (it is, after all, a child-friendly establishment),  and remains open during the festivities…yeah, you’re not THAT special.  Remember, you’re only paying $400, it’s not enough to shut the place down…

Filed under: Business, Food, Marketing, Random, World, , , , ,

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