Not Lovin’ It – McDonald’s Quality Push Hits Packaging

Excerpted from Ad Age “McDonald’s Gives Packaging a Flashy Update” by Emily Bryson Yor, October 29, 2008

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McDonald’s is scrapping its package design across 118 countries and 56 languages in …. the “biggest packaging initiative in the history of the brand.” The new look puts more emphasis on product and less on the brand’s iconic “I’m lovin’ it” tagline…McDonald’s is “putting the focus on food.” Each new package focuses on the item enclosed, with pictures of the sandwich or nuggets and a rallying cry, such as “There is only one” for Big Mac; “Full steam ahead” for the Filet-O-Fish; or “Share me nots” for chicken nuggets…
Nutrition information, pictures of ingredients and “I’m lovin’ it” are printed on the sides — de-emphasizing the tagline, which earlier was featured prominently at the top of each package. To subtly indicate freshness and quality ingredients, the new food bags have pictures of potatoes, lettuce, wheat, eggs and even farm machinery…a move from “100% I’m lovin’ it lifestyle,” to something that also assured consumers of product quality in a “young tonality”…
The redesign “is pretty inventive for the category,” said Ron Romanik…”I haven’t seen anything like it in the fast-food category, for sure. It’s almost Nike-ish.” Mr. Romanik estimated that McDonald’s may have paid as much as eight figures for the redesign. But the cost of implementation, he said, “would be almost impossible to calculate.”

The real cost would have to take into account that McDonald’s is “probably changing suppliers, printers, who they’re using for sourcing for their packaging,” he said. “One thing companies don’t like to do is switch suppliers. They try to get designers to design within the capabilities they already have so they don’t want to give anything on those margins.”

Ms. Dillon described the graphic-heavy look as an investment. “It will increase the perceptions about the quality of our food,” she said.

Edit by SAC  

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The packaging change appears to be a part of a larger effort that McDonald’s has undergone to connect its food with high-quality ingredients. As part of these efforts McDonald’s has hired “Moms’ Quality Correspondents”.  These are real life moms that are given high-level access to McDonald’s facilities.  The moms keep journals of their experiences and the questions they ask of McDonald’s and then communicate with other mom’s online. 

McDonald’s also has put up billboards emphasizing product quality and devoted a separate website ( for consumers to go inside a McDonald’s kitchen and meet McDonald’s suppliers.  After getting sucked into the website and watching both an Egg McMuffin and Big Mac being made I am no more likely to eat at McDonalds, but was left with a better understanding of how these products are made.

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