Friday, November 04, 2005

The Problem With McDonald's

McDonald's has just announced they will print nutrition information on its wrappers. Too little, too late, I say. Then again, it does beg the question when Wendy's and Jack-in-the-Box will do the same thing. This brings the whole nutritional thing to a head.

I understand McDonald's problem - they are victims of their own success. They've become the symbol of fast-food, the gold standard. The problem is that when someone wants to attack fast-food in general, they attack McDonald's specifically. As a result, McDonald's is getting all the criticism that should really be distributed to the entire fast-food industry.

Health advocates are telling McDonald's "serve healthier food." But they know dang well that nobody goes to McDonald's for tofu and salads. When we go to McDonald's, we go for Big Macs and french fries. If they stopped selling unhealthy food, their business would collapse, and all the fatties would just go next-door to Burger King. But as long as they continue to sell fattening food, they remain a lightning rod for criticism. What health advocates are asking McDonald's to do is put itself out of business. It's like trying to get car manufacturers to promote bicycles.

The purpose of the new ad campaign is to shift attention away from McDonald's and towards food in general. Fair enough. They're trying to say "hey, look, we should all be eating healthier. Let's all exercise, eat right, and live longer. And stop bothering us."

It's a good strategy, but it doesn't work, because they still need to run ads for Big Macs and fries. It's like tobacco companies producing anti-smoking ads. If you really want us to stop smoking, why don't you stop making cigarettes?

You can't eat McDonald's and exercise. A 150-pound person would have to jog six miles to burn off the calories of a single Big Mac. This is all about hiding behind a smokescreen, not seriously changing the company's ethics.

If I were McDonald's, I would first of all stop marketing fast-food to children. I know it's lucrative, but it's just too easy to say "think of the children!" Take that off the table, and ninety-percent of their critics are gone. Next, turn the company into a high-end place and ditch the clowns. Subway makes money by targeting adults, and McDonald's should too. Next, create a new independent company called McHealth or something, truly dedicated to promoting healthy living. Sponsor children's ads for vegetables and fruits that make them just as appealing to kids as McNuggets. Sponsor marathons and exercise. Pay for physical education and exercise equipment in schools. Of course, this will never happen, and I'm glad. Every now and then, I need my Big Macs.


glomgold said...

Fast food places should scale down meal sizes & their prices accordingly. Of course if they do shrink the food I'm sure the price will remain more or less the same. It's really up to the consumer to wisen up a bit and eat in moderation. And probably skip the soda.
I've read that Ruby Tuesday's puts calories/fat info on their menus but NO ONE wants to see a rack of ribs their about to eat is 2500 calories & 150g of fat!

Monkey Migraine said...

Wow, 2500 calories. That means you could eat a rack of ribs and wouldn't have to eat for the rest of the day, calorie-wise. That should come with a warning label like the Stonner.