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Ivan's picture

Nutri-Washing the BigMac

I think McDonald's is an amazing company. They should get the one million dollars for surviving everything that the self conscious new age society has thrown at it for the last 10 years.

First it was the rain forest issue. Greens said that all the cattle that McDonald's buys up leads to deforestation, because of the urgent need for new pastures. Email chain letters, flame sites all didn't do a lasting damage. They fought it off by rearranging their supplies and trying to prove that there is no correlation between the two issues.

McDonald's jogging flyerThan, it was the mad cow disease, that caused a massive loss of sales on their core BigMac product. Refocusing on their different products and massive PR campaign helped them through this disaster.

Regionally there were political and religious issues. In the Middle East McDonald's restaurants being icons of the US presence were boycotted and trashed every other day for months. Hiring local residents and giving to local charities softened the edge.

In India vegetarians complained about McDonald's shops in their neighborhood because of religious reasons. New product lines, big apologies. Still standing.

At the same time in France and other countries of the world anti globalization movements boycotted and tried to force them out of business in different ways. Big bucks for lawyers. High level negotiations. Problem solved again.

McDonald's yin-yang cupLately people started bashing them big time for the food served not being healthy. Everybody heard of Super Size Me, a full fledged documentary about a man who eats nothing but MacDonald's food for one month. Eww! Now, this is really a difficult issue. This problem is real, but McDonald's puts on the boxing gloves of marketing again. Launching campaigns talking about healthy food. Green salads, sleek talents, yin-yang balance and the Olympics dominate their communication. And, the people will believe it. Image is everything. McDonald's is doing a great job at changing their unhealthy perception to it's opposite. They will come out of it again.

All this negative publicity didn't shake the fast food giant. It is still expanding. Think about McDonald's, when you have an impossible brief, like positioning Windows look like a secure system. :)

Commenting on this Blog entry is closed.

Anonymous's picture

Nutri-Washing? Did you make up this word?

Ivan's picture

No, I picked it up from the world wide words newsletter.

Here is the article:

This appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle ten days ago and has been widely copied in newsletters online. It's based on "greenwashing", the name that environmentalists give to disinformation from big businesses who falsely try to present an environmentally responsible public image. "Nutri-washing" is the same type of public-relations puffery, but done by major food companies (collectively and pejoratively called Big Food, in imitation of Big Pharma, a term for the pharmaceuticals industry) to offset current criticism about the high salt, fat, and sugar levels in their products.

random ramblings's picture

Here is an interesting article on the power of branding.
This was posted way back in 1999. Advertising and marketing on the internet has come a long way since than, so has bandwith. But it still offers some interesting points of view.

Ivan's picture

Interesting. Thanks!

Anonymous's picture

I had 2 quarter pounders with cheese for lunch today.

I think you have said it before, there is no such thing as negative marketing, only marketing.

McDees is at every corner of the street available for cheap and fast. When a person is hungry, McDees will satisfy that hunger fast.

We have 3 addictions that need to be satisfied at least once a day: Breath air, drink fluids and eat food. McDees is just an available drug dealer at the corner of the street.

Anonymous's picture

Do all these things make McDonalds good? Is brand recognition that important? I'm embarrassed for you, to hear that McDonalds is a role model of yours.

Ivan's picture

Good point. Of course good marketing doesn't make the product good. However we (advertising professionals) are whores. We sell anything they tell us to.

I have to say I do know of two ladies, who did give up advertising because of their conscience. They both stayed in advertising, but they only work on good cases.

I have worked on McD and Coke and I didn't feel bad about it, although I have to admit I consume them less and less as I get more involved in natural bodybuilding. McD food is not bad for you if you. You can eat it when you don't have time to wait for your Sushi. Big Mac will not poison you, neither will it make you fat, but one shouldn't live on it. The body needs much more fibers, more protein and less carbos and fat than what you get from McD meals.

However you can eat smart even at McD. Take the chicken burger, don't take upsize fries and eat only half of them, take milk, water or light soda and don't take an apple pie. That should make a healthy meal with at least 30g of protein and not much fat.

McD and Coke in fact can be considered as role models for excellent FMCG marketing. They know their stuff.

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