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Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I was a little intrigued the other day when I spotted an interesting article about McDonald's on the Wall Street Journal website. See, I don't think about McDonald's much. I almost never eat there, and there isn't one anywhere near my house. I can't even remember the last time I saw an ad for McDonald's on TV, although I am sure there are loads of them, and I have just been fortunate enough to be in the bathroom when they are on.

So I started looking for McDonald's ads on the internet, like the really cool one above. And I thought to myself, "Gee I hate McDonald's, but they have an amazing PR, advertising and marketing team." After that, I started thinking about McDonald's, a lot.

The WSJ article talks about how successful McDonald's has performed as a company during the recession (the article is American). It makes perfect sense. If we are all pinching our pennies, those of us who were unlikely to eat that much fast food have returned to it in droves. Sometimes it's just nice to have a meal out, even if that meal tastes like cardboard and makes you feel sick afterward. Who cares when you can have dinner for under $7 right?

McDonald's have proven themselves to be clever market players in the past. They monitor data fastidiously, and in short create the exact environment their customers desire. Backlash about the fat content? Easy, throw in some Heart Foundation approved menu choices. Stores in affluent areas suffering? Easy, close them down and open more stores in lower socio-economic areas.

McDonald's may annoy the crap out of most of us, but figures show they are doing something right. While you won't find me working in an organic veggie shop wearing a t-shirt with McShit across the front, I'm not waving a flag of support for the company either.

With that in mind, I went to McDonald's. And ate there. By choice. And it wasn't all bad.

The part that frightened me the most: the customers. My venue of choice was in a predominantly low-income area, so I suppose I found what I predicted. It is really hard to watch really overweight kids eat fast food. This is probably why the kids you see eating happy meals on the telly are perfectly groomed and slender. That said, there are loads of fat kids in Sandy Bay as well.

There was something about being in a McDonald's (and being sober enough to remember it) that brought up some fun memories of being a kid. I didn't come from a take-away kind of family. A meal out at Maccas meant someone had received a really good report card from school. I remember when a Happy Meal didn’t come with a free toy. And an invitation to a birthday party at McDonald's was worth its weight in gold.

Now I have been back, I will concede that McDonald's is at least 70 percent evil. And I did feel really ill after my McNuggets, because I've read Fast Food Nation, I know what is in them. But I kinda had a fun time. For a little under an hour, I felt just a little bit like a kid again. And that can't be all bad.


Uncle Monty said...

In writing this post I’m sure you are hoping to tap into what you might suspect is a topical issue in the blogosphere & as a journo, I’m sure you are aware of the impact that a contemporary issue might garner some attention & hopefully translate as some hits on your blog. But I feel from your writing, that you would like to look beyond the instant mutual self-gratification of a small number of glad-fly blog trawlers, or am I wrong here?
I don’t mean to sound condescending, but you should really try to come up with an angle more original. So sorry, I just read my last statement out loud & I know its sounds terribly patronizing but if I & perhaps others are to consider your blog for further enjoyment in the future, which I will say, started with much promise, then you must leave the well trodden stories & their paths well alone my dear, Its not unlike the cheap joke, anyone can do it.
Everyone, but everyone, knows all about Maccas, find another topic & let your true self be heard.

Maggie said...

Ouch. Although I see your point.

I spend eight hours a day writing for the rest of the world. I'm not looking for fame and fortune here, I already get paid real money to write real news. This is just for fun.

When I write for my blog, I write for me. This entry was me, trying to justify a trip to McDonald's to myself. In the beginning, I didn't think anyone would read this. Now, I'm getting quite a lot of hits.

Also, "an angle more original" is grammatically incorrect. Sorry, I had to have a little dig of my own.

I hope you keep reading my blog. Sorry my topic of choice was not to your taste. I'm off to Melbourne for the weekend. Maybe in my travels I will conjure up something more interesting.

Anonymous said...

Monty are you taking the piss? McDonald's is the worlds most popular choice, outside of the home.
Like it, hate it, the issue is still going to draw attention. It is the "Brangelina" of the culinary world, tacky, famous and successful.
Only an idiot is going to ignore its influence.
Its perhaps nice to be in that elite 5% that wants to blog about the more higher brow gastronomic news, but only 5% give a shit.
Feed the poor eat with the rich, I say their smart people. Before you knock the reporting of it too much, try and remember that the majority still want to know.

Waitress, love the work, keep it coming, and tell it like it is.

Maggie said...

Yeah, except McDonald's created about a million more versions of itself than "Brangeina."

I'm glad someone is entertained.

Anonymous said...

Oh how knowledgeable you all are not! McDonalds is one of the most egregious companies to the little guy who has to do all the work and pay for all the promo they dream up. Did you know that McDonald's uses the franchisee's hard earned money (regardless of net percentages) for all its promo? Did you know that the marketing dollars given away are all at the cost of the individual franchisee? Did you know that McDonald's is really in the real estate business as they sublet to all of the franchisees? And contrary to what most people know, McDonalds corporate lives the life of Reilly at the expense of the little guys who really make a difference. Take a look at and see how many mentions to the downside are written about McDonalds....and the next time you go - think about who you're funding and remember that it's the franchisees and not corporate that deserve the break.....just remember that the more you give to these corporate giants, the quicker the middle class dies!

MemeGRL said...

All things in moderation, including moderation. No one goes to McD's for health food, even if you are getting a salad. Anyone who thinks a nugget is healthy because it has the word "chicken" attached to it is delusional or not paying attention.
Having also read FFN, I tend to stick with the fries. What I wish is that I could get a burger like I remember them tasting (though I shudder to wonder what that flavor is/was).
There's lots that I don't agree with in their corporate structure. But that can be said for any number of places, and I have to say that like most things/places, they are a mix of good and not.
Thanks for the cool ad at the top of the post. Hadn't seen that one here in the states.

Anonymous said...

Never met a poor McDonalds franchise owner yet.
Actually, never heard them complaining much either.
Although I have met other franchise owners like Boost, for example who are not so wealthy and happy.

Maggie said...

Word on the street is that Sandy Bay McDonald's is worth $4 million.

Anonymous said...

So if the franchise owner sold out, not much to bitch about with 4 mil in the bank then?
Maybe these franchise owners are hard done by then eh, and maybe macca's is all about real estate, or maybe they are smart cookies after all.

Lucy said...

pity that the workers aren't as happy or as rich.

Anonymous said...

Dear Maggie!
Greetings from Shizuoka, Japan!
First of all welcome to Foodbuzz!
You are an Ozzie from Melbourne if I'm correct. We have quite a few Ozzies from Melbourne in Shizuoka as we play a lot of cricket there (yes, you heard me correctly!) and booze as well (I don't really have to mention that!).
I was scrolling down your postings (quite excellent, the old geezer is impressed!) not knowing which I would comment on first when I skidded stop to the McDo one.
I humbly think you had the courage to tell the truth. Had it been me, I wouldn't have taken gloves. It was positive and objective. Full stop.
If Uncle (seems old like me!) Monty thinks he can get away with that kind of comment, which was not even polite in the first place, he is digging his own grave (as far as possible in the outback, mate!). I think you were extremely civil in not rasing his diatribe.
Keep on the good work!
A fan of yours,

P.S.: if you need a reference for an argument, tell him that in France, my country, French (they're Belgian actually) fries served at McDo's have to be made from real potatoes cut in situ by law! LOL

Christie said...

Nice post.

Once in a while i like a sneaky trip to McD's, but I always always feel ill afterwards

I guess as long as there is a market for their product they will be around & making big bucks for the big wigs