This is the short story behind the real success of McDonald’s. I am saying the real success, because I don’t believe that the real success has anything to do with great and tasty food. Their success has nothing to do with cheap or fast food either. The real success is a marketing trick, a trick that has become very common today, but I don’t think many companies did use it when the founder of McDonald’s Ray Kroc together with a marketing company first thought about it.
Let me give you an example from the book Fast Food Nation (page 41):
“A child who loves our TV commercial” Kroc explained, “and brings her grandparents to a McDonald’s gives us two more customers”.
They have been targeting children for their marketing campaigns since the early 1960s and it worked. A lot of kids, I am not saying every kid, knows that there are great playgrounds at every McDonald’s, and they know that they will get some awesome toys if they buy a happy meal. And why do they call it the happy meal, will the kids get happy if they eat it? The name is very easy to pronounce and it’s very easy to remember, and most kids knows the meaning behind the word happy. Of course they all want a happy meal.
Now it’s time for a really short history lesson for you. The first mascot from McDonald’s was Speedee, not a clown but a character with a hamburger for a head. The mascot was later renamed Archie McDonald, but the success did not happen before an ad agency and Willard Scott invented the new mascot. In the 1960s Ronald McDonald was launched all over the United States through a huge ad campaign, and Willard Scott was suppose to be the clown, but he was actually too overweight to play the part. They wanted someone thinner. A thin person should always sell stuff that makes you overweight, a perfect marketing trick if you ask me.
Did you know that Ronald McDonald is not the founder of McDonald’s? Obviously you do now, because I gave it away above that Ray Kroc was the founder. When I was a kid I actually thought that Ronald McDonald (yes, the clown) was the founder of McDonald’s. Why would he always appear at the commercials and everywhere I saw or read something about McDonald’s? Because of the kids of course… and did you know that 96% of school children in the United States can identify him?
Kids love McDonald’s, and I understand why they do. It’s a great “restaurant” with food that tastes good and with toys and great playgrounds. Today, they are even selling healthy alternatives as well. It might not be as bad as many have stated? I actually don’t know. I am a vegetarian, and I don’t eat that often at McDonald’s even though they have vegetarian alternatives.
What I am trying to focus on is the targeted marketing towards children. Kids will be tricked into almost anything if they are promised a good time. Disregard the food and the drinks, what they are after is the playground and the toys, and of course the happy meal.