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The original McDonald's

Dick and Mac McDonald’s original drive-in, walk-up service restaurant in San Bernardino, CA, as it looked when they completed the renovation from their old bar-be-que, car hop restaurant, in 1948. Showing an autograph by “Richard J. McDonald, Founder.”

Fortune Magazine has just announced their 2012 Most-Admired Companies list, and McDonald’s ranked in the top 20 (#11), between Southwest Airlines and J&J, and above Disney, GE, American Express and Microsoft. McDonald’s ranked #1 in use of corporate assets, and #2 in management quality, financial soundness and global competitiveness. Of course, they ranked #1 in the food service industry.

Back in the mid-90s, I worked with the editors of Fortune to get McDonald’s considered for these annual rankings of corporate reputation and success..

When censuses and surveys today ask people how often they “dine out,” I don’t think people know what is being asked. While the intent may be to determine how often and where people eat away from home, I think the “dining out” question suggests to many people a white tablecloth “dining” experience. Many Americans, I believe, seldom go to “white tablecloth” restaurants, yet I find it hard, no, impossible to believe, that if you include fast food and all the kinds of eating experiences other than home, even if you exclude food brought from home, that no-one but an invalid does not participate in “dining out” experiences. Statistics should always be suspect, but fallible humans write the surveys. See this article for some good example of what I mean:

Interbrand’s new study of the best global brads for 2010 is out, and McDonald’s remains the world’s foremost restaurant brand, at #6 in the overall ratings, between GE and Intel. The estimated value of McDonald’s brand, according to Interbrand’s study, is more than $33 Billion. Here are their comments on McDonald’s:

“The market leader in its category, McDonald’s remains globally versatile, approachable, value-driven and reliable in a year when Burger King fell off the table. Already a strong brand with deep roots, the recession reminded people once again of its great value. McDonald’s seized the opportunity to capture a new audience and drive sales even further by upgrading its coffee to make it more premium and introducing healthier menu options – a move that should help it in the long-term. This, along with constant rollouts of new café concepts and contemporized environments, put McDonald’s in more consideration sets for more occasions. The brand wins A’s all around for its corporate citizenship efforts, as well as its social media endeavors (particularly “Voice of McDonald’s”).”

Seems the Wall Street Journal is reporting that some group called the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, headed by a former PETA board member, is taking a page out of the PETA songbook, and running a TV commercial in Washington D.C. that asserts a vegetarian diet by associating a McDonald’s hamburger with a body in the morgue, and the issue of heart disease.

While McDonald’s is a convenient target, it’s because of their recognizability, not because they deserve it. This organization’s attack on McDonald’s in fact does disservice to the real issue of heart disease by pointing a finger at a progressive company that takes its responsibilities to the dining public very seriously.

Here is my comment posted with the Journal article:

McDonald’s offers an array of food choices, has pioneered full nutritional disclosure, offers more balance, choice and portion control than most white-table cloth restaurants, and is a socially responsive and socially responsible business that is a model of employment diversity, entrepreneurial and managerial opportunity, and sound business ethics. If the public really wants peanut butter sandwiches at McDonald’s, they’ll probably get it.

As an old fast food guy, I’m happy to see so much creativity going into new beverage offerings in the business. But what seems missing to date are new diet versions of these drinks, for those of us who love the taste (and what pros call the “mouth feel” of crushed ice and creamy stuff), but have to push away from the excess calories and fats. Beverages are highly profitable, and will be more so when there are more low-cal options.

My old media friend Scott Hume brings the story up to date in his latest entry in his blog atβurgerβusiness%29

July 2017
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