Posts tagged “McDonalds”

Bad Idea: Let’s Eat At McDonald’s

Great stuff about bad ideas in this post from Jon Bell. First, an everyday application

…when we’re trying to decide where to eat for lunch and no one has any ideas. I recommend McDonald’s.

An interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can’t possibly go to McDonald’s, and better lunch suggestions emerge.

It’s as if we’ve broken the ice with the worst possible idea, and now that the discussion has started, people suddenly get very creative.

Then he applies this principle to creative work.

I call it the McDonald’s Theory: people are inspired to come up with good ideas to ward off bad ones.

The next time a project is being discussed in its early stages, grab a marker, go to the board, and throw something up there. The idea will probably be stupid, but that’s good! McDonald’s Theory teaches us that it will trigger the group into action…Say, “This is probably crazy, but what if we.-“

The article is short and direct and makes the point so well. This is an area I’ve been exploring over the past year or so (see article on Core77 here and slide deck from SXSW here) and it’s great to see others doing so as well.

Keeping it Weird

I made my second trip to Austin a couple of months ago and was struck again by the Keep Austin Weird ethos. Once you start seeing it, it’s fairly pervasive (i.e., tie-dyed souvenir shirts, tote bags, bumper stickers, keychains, etc. at the airport). Of course, memes become co-opted and corrupted. Here are two examples I found

A McDonald’s mural by David Soames gives new meaning to the term “counter culture”

Keeping Jesus Weird – a different and unpredictable faith conversation – offers a Ladies’ Night event, where women are the topic. I count two memes being repurposed here

I’m not sure that “Keep [thing that you’re selling] Weird” is going to work (even in Austin) for every possible brand, product, service, religion, or combination thereof, but it’s amusing to watch the purveyors try real hard to make it happen!

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from julienorvaisas] An App for Sharing Photos With Friends [] – [Instagram is betting on word overload, predicting that people will want to share and see their friends' mobile visual feeds rather than text-based snippets.] Instead of following people’s 140-character thoughts, Instagram users can follow their photo stream and get a glimpse of what they ate for lunch and the view from their office. Instagram also plans to introduce a Web site soon. Building a mobile app before a Web site would have been a foreign concept just a few years ago, but Instagram’s founders say that communicating in quick snippets with a phone, on the go, is a new form of communication. The app is free now but Instagram plans to eventually charge a dollar or so for extra filters. “Filters are not the billion-dollar business,” Mr. Systrom said. “It’s photography. The next network is people interested in sharing life visually.”
  • [from julienorvaisas] Check Out Tagxedo, A Ridiculously Cool Word Cloud Generator [Tech Crunch] – [Yet another great visualization tool, this one highly customizable, combining word-clouds with images. The impulse to make sense of the word-avalanche on the web by morphing it into infographics is fun and beautiful, for sure, but I wonder whether conveying pretty word-frequency charts is actually providing useful information.] You can use the app to create visually stunning word clouds by inserting words (e.g. speeches, news articles, letters, slogans, themes, and so on). You can do so by uploading a document, entering a URL or simply by pasting text into the appropriate field. Tagxedo will size words appropriately to highlight the frequencies of occurrence within the body of text, leaving out small words like “is”, “are”, “do”, etc. With just one click, you can rotate the cloud, modify its colors and font, and also alternate between themes and shapes as you please. You can even upload your own images and have the word cloud assume the shape of the image.
  • [from steve_portigal] A Spray of DNA to Keep the Robbers Away [] – [Technology offers new detection methods but the social performance of the tech serves best as prevention] The new system involved a device that sprays a fine, barely visible mist laced with synthetic DNA to cover anyone in its path, including criminals, and simultaneously alerts the police to a crime in progress. The mist — visible only under ultraviolet light — carries DNA markers particular to the location, enabling the police to match the burglar with the place burgled. Now, a sign on the front door of the McDonald’s prominently warns potential thieves of the spray’s presence: “You Steal, You’re Marked.” The police acknowledge that they have yet to make an arrest based on the DNA mist, which was developed in Britain by two brothers, one a policeman and the other a chemist. But they credit its presence — and signs posted prominently warning of its use — for what they call a precipitous decline in crime rates (though they could not provide actual figures to back that up).

What is advertising really selling us?

The Boing Boing post about ludicrous advertising claims echoed an earlier post here (Products with (fake) benefits) and brought to mind this photograph I took recently in downtown San Francisco, entering a BART station.

Who says you can’t buy happiness?

At least Twix, Red Bull and SoyJoy have an element of ironic bemusement in their claims, but McDonald’s is playing it pretty straight: buy this and you will be happy. Does this sort of pronouncement raise an eyebrow anymore? Do we actively or passively subscribe to that premise?

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Mark Menjivar's You Are What You Eat – Set of naturalistic images of inside of refrigerators, with brief profile of the owner. Beautifully done.
  • Rollasole – after-dancing semisposable shoe vending – Fact 1: The best nightclubs are notoriously located at either the top or the bottom of a massive flight of stairs.
    Fact 2: The best nightclub shoes are painful, precarious and perilously pointy.
    But fear not, for we at Rollasole have appeared like Prince Charmings (sic) to gently escort you down the stairs, across the kerb and into the back of your carriage – all without falling on your face.
    When you're all danced out, just slip one of our vending machines a fiver and it'll sort you out with a pair of roly poly pumps and a shiny new bag to shove your slingbacks in.

    (via Springwise)

  • Legendary McDonald's failure in the UK – McPloughman – Although vegetarian burgers have failed in the U.S. McDonald's, one of McDonald's most spectacular production failures happened in Britain. This failure can be seen not only as a failure to understand the desires of its primary market, largely for burgers and fries, but also as a lack of understanding of a food product that is tied to British identity. In 1994 McDonald's test marketed the "McPloughman" in Britain. A "ploughman's lunch" is a very traditional British lunch that consists of bread, cheese (British, of course, usually cheddar) and a pickle (also cured in the British style). An attempt to tie the America-based company to such a traditional British product was a "McFlop." The company admitted that the British counter crew were embarrassed both by the concept and by the name itself.

    [Thanks to Stokes Jones for the tip to this one]

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • The McGangBang: a McChicken Sandwich Inside a Double Cheeseburger – (via Kottke) Another awesome example of customers co-opting (or trying to) the corporation. It's a user-generated menu item and people are trying to order it by its (rather unpalatable) name and then documenting the results. Like the obscene Skittle comments on Twitter, this is people taking a brand (and an experience) and playing with it. And then using the Internet to bring energy to that small piece of celebratory rebellion. If we ever needed another example of the brand being created by the customers not the producers, this would be it.
  • Chinese Internet meme about Grass-Mud Horse is a form of social protest – An online phenomena features a mythical character is built on the name – in Chinese – sounding close to an obscenity, but presented as an innocent song (with some fable-like plot twists) that the censors (so far) can't/won't remove. “Its underlying tone is: I know you do not allow me to say certain things. See, I am completely cooperative, right?” the Beijing Film Academy professor and social critic Cui Weiping wrote in her own blog. “I am singing a cute children’s song — I am a grass-mud horse! Even though it is heard by the entire world, you can’t say I’ve broken the law.”

Morale and milkshakes

From a strange article in the NYT about McDonald’s holding an employee-only American Idol-style singing competition (for reasons they don’t exactly make clear)

Employee contests with big prizes are nothing new in corporate America. McDonald’s has pitted stores and regions against one another to determine who makes the best shakes.

But I thought that shakes (sorry, not milkshakes) were identical from store to store, based on a standard recipe and ingredients. Then what do you compete on? Speed? Panache?

Mom’s Quality Correspondents at McDonald’s

Last year McDonald’s set up a panel of high-profile over-achieving moms. Their latest version appears to be drawing from the ranks of the everyday customer.

In a bid to convince health-conscious moms that its food is nutritious, McDonald’s says it will bring the group of mothers fully inside the company. The moms will visit restaurants, processing plants, orchards and test kitchens.

Beginning June 20, the moms will keep an online journal for roughly three months about what they see – and how they feel about it. The journal will be posted on the McDonald’s website and, the company hopes, read by other moms. McDonald’s insists it will have no input on what the women write.

McDonald’s dubbed the program Mom’s Quality Correspondents. The moms were picked from 4,000 applicants by Arc Worldwide, a promotions specialist.

They aren’t being paid, though McDonald’s pays for their travel. They got laptop computers for the program that they will be allowed to keep.

The women will be journaling – not blogging – says Starmann, meaning consumer responses to their comments will not be posted on the site. But the six mothers are free to respond to consumers or to post comments on other blogs, she says. They also will appear in videos at

Burger causes embarrassment? Burger ad brings shame!

A friend sent me this horrifying online ad. What is happening to that poor woman? Burger-inappropriate pain? Or pleasure? Or is she gazing overhead at an incoming phalanx of special-sauce laden pelicans?

Of course, this is a company known for letting ridiculous advertising stuff get through, so this is maybe par for the course?

You can see another in the series here and a funny rant about the complexity of their product naming system is at Naming a Chicken Sandwich in Thirteen Syllables or Fewer.

Q&A on Mickey D’s and Me on National Review Online

A new film, Me & Mickey D, is by a filmmaker who ate at McDonald’s for 30 days and lost weight.

NRO: Would you recommend anyone eat McDonald’s for 30 days?

Whaley: Actually I think a lot of people do, at least for a few meals a week. Tens of millions of people eat there every day without ill effect. As for a 30-day diet to lose weight? That’s up to the individual. This was not intended to promote a McDonald’s diet for losing weight, it was meant to demonstrate that some of our current belief systems are incorrect.

NRO: Besides the obvious, Super-Size-Me-is-wrong/be responsible/McDonald’s-can’t-make-you-fat,-only-the- choices-you-make-can message, what is the overall point of your documentary?

Whaley: Simply to encourage people to take more responsibility for their own lives and to appreciate the concept of freedom of choice that we have in the U.S. I also hope to inspire people to get out and move around more. Forget about ‘exercising,’ just get out there and celebrate your life by staying busy and productive. ‘Eat to live, don’t live to eat.’ – Moliere

FreshMeat #3: We Love To See You Smile

FreshMeat #3 from Steve Portigal

               (oo) Fresh                  
                \\/  Meat

Give the gift that reeks of love…give FreshMeat!
Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the cheese

Recent news reports state that McDonald’s
“now has another problem: customers turning away in
droves because they don’t like the way they are
treated…the problem could be responsible for $750
million in lost sales every year.”

Now, if this were a talk show instead of email, I could
slowly lower the paper from in front of my face, and
raise my eyebrows in a look of sardonic significance.
But we’re stuck here, aren’t we, so rather than defining
a new emoticon for the reaction one has to really obvious
news stories, let’s look a little deeper.

I don’t think any of us are surprised. Customer service
at McDonald’s (indeed, all QSR chains — Quick-Serve
Restaurants, industry jargon for “fast food”) is
terrible. If we’ve patronized those places, we know the
story. The frightening question is how can McDonald’s
seemingly just be figuring this out?

In my work, I’ve interviewed QSR staff, store managers,
regional managers, and corporate folks. The higher up
the organizational ladder you get, the less focus there
is on the customer, and the more there is on the food.
They gauge their own success by such factors as speed
(kitchens feature overhead countdown timers and alarms),
temperature, and consistency. The customer focus may be
as simple as “clean.” One regional supervisor told me
that their best employees work in the kitchen. All a
counter employee has to do, they said, was be able to
count (since they handle the money).

In the space we have here, I think the point is this:
There but for the grace of God go each of us. Every
company has made specific, often implicit, choices about
what to be excellent at. And neglected others. McDonald’s
chose food over customers. Now they are realizing that
they have been paying a price for that. Many
organizations never get to that point of self-awareness,
and may continue to neglect something crucial that is
holding them back. The humor in the news story comes from
the fact that we could see what McDonald’s wasn’t able
to. Have the laugh, because you deserve a break today,
but maybe we can apply the lesson here to our own

Postscript: check out “The Deep End” starring Tilda
Swinton to see a current portrayal of customer
service. Often it is played for comedy, but here
the difficulties of getting help over the phone turn
into horror.


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