The Hightower Report
The agonizingly slow pace of a fast-food giant
The appeal of fast-food chains has not been their food (mostly fat, salty, sugary, empty-calorie blah), but their speed. Order, pay, and – Bam! – your warmed-over burgerpizzachickentaco delight is instantly handed to you.
Yet, for a megachain based on fast, McDonald's has proven to be embarrassingly slow, leaving it with flat sales and declining appeal. The executives in charge were so stuck on peddling obesity and diabetes for fat profits that they completely missed a mass shift in today's marketplace: the rise of health-conscious consumers. As a result, McDonald's has been losing out to Subway, Chipotle, Panera, and other chains that have been quick to cater to the lean-and-green customer base, particularly women and young buyers.
But look out, for here comes the McDonald's marketing machine with a blur of ads and promotional gimmicks touting "a new global commitment to make a world of difference." Using endearing pictures of children, the Big Mac chain now claims to be all about fresh veggies, fruit, salads, juices, milk, health, and a fuzzy happiness for all.
The Golden Arches empire has even signed up Bill Clinton to give its PR hype a sheen of sincerity. For an undisclosed splash of cash, the fast-food marketer says it is now "global partners" with the Clinton Foundation to produce a healthier generation through its sales of more nutritious Happy Meals to the world's kiddos.
However, the fast-food giant is in no hurry to deliver on this pledge. Claiming that getting healthier foods into its supply chain is a difficult and slow process, the CEO snickered, "We don't go down to the grocery stores."
Well, maybe they should. Doing it the McDonald's way, he says, will take until 2020 to get the more nutritious stuff into all stores of the chain's 20 largest markets.
For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, "The Hightower Lowdown" – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.