Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Image for the Golden Arches?

I don't know about you, but I've noticed their commercials for fancy coffee and the recent addition of stone fascades on their buildings. What is McDonald's trying to do? Are they becoming Starbucks?

Apparently they are putting a great deal of time and effort into revamping their image. New commercials that tout their new coffee line play with the accented "e" of café. (Americans don't seem to understand accented letters anyway, so it's a good opportunity to further confuse them. That, however, is a discussion for another day.) I've noticed include a heavily flash-based website redesign that matches the commercials.

Micky D's is also spending a sizable amount of money on changing the appearance of their restaurant locations, inside and out. They've removed some of the worn out plastic parts and added contemporary elements. The new design even includes a change to the roof structure of the franchise locations. Though I'm not a frequent McDonald's customer (I'm just not a fast food junkie), I have always thought McDonald's regular coffee was delicious and a somewhat hidden gem. It is fantastic source for a decent and inexpensive cup of coffee. The newfangled coffee products seem to be the McD's answer to Starbucks' line of over caffeinated beverage. While the extension to their product line may boost sales, I wonder whether it will provide any long term growth to their sales or customer base.

I think that McDonald's' effort to make their restaurants and company feel more upscale is admirable. They have clearly thought through and are carrying out a strategy to reposition the company's brand and identity in the eyes of their customers and prospective customers. However, one major problem I have with what I've seen of the McDonald's campaign is inconsistency of message. They have the fancy new website and locations, and clever commercials with their more sophisticated McCafé products, but they still seem to have some advertising out there that I would consider less than classy. Maybe it's just my taste, but their current commercial promoting their filet-o-fish sandwich strikes me as rather tacky.

Again, I admire McDonald's commitment to revamping their image, but they need to find some consistency with their message and make sure their marketing sticks. McDonald's has to overcome decades worth of opinions about their company in the minds of American consumers in order to create any significant break through.

My challenge for you: Bypass the new "McCafé" products, and try a cup of regular McDonald's coffee for that caffeine fix.

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