How McDonald’s aims to tackle its image

BY Dave Sloan  August 18, 2014 at 6:06 PM EST
Photo by Flickr user Elliott Brown

Photo by Flickr user Elliott Brown

McDonald’s has been battling a chronic image problem that they hope to erase with the continued introduction of healthier and more relevant menu options.

The fast food giant, the Associated Press writes, has been trying to change its image by adding healthier items to its meals, in addition to the option to substitute healthier alternatives into current offerings.

In the past 18 months, the chain has introduced the option to substitute egg whites in breakfast sandwiches and rolled out chicken wraps as its first menu item with cucumbers. Last fall, it announced plans to give people the choice of a salad instead of fries in combo meals. And in coming months, mandarins will be offered in Happy Meals, with other fruits being explored as well.

“We’ve got to make sure that the food is relevant and that the awareness around McDonald’s as a kitchen and a restaurant that cooks and prepares fresh, high quality food is strong and pronounced,” CEO Don Thompson said in January.

During a trendy Tribeca event in October 2013, the popular fast food chain laid out the red carpet for reporters and bloggers alike to a fine dining event that only included ingredients available on their menu. Celebrity chefs took basic burger patties and fries and fashioned a cuisine of gnocchi and slow cooked beef that most McDonald’s customers would not have at their disposal. They billed the experience simply as “good food, served fast.”

For McDonald’s, they believe this is an opportunity to develop a narrative without the influence of outside groups. With recent concerns of food quality and reports that one of the company’s main suppliers was selling spoiled meat in China, the chain is hoping that they can change the public’s perception through a variety of distinctive menu changes.

Even with the intentions to produce a product that would be more public-friendly, the restaurant has not been able to escape scrutiny. Troubles with “slow and inaccurate service,” in addition to backlash over decisions such as the scrapping of the “Dollar Menu,” have contributed to negative public perception. McDonald’s sales continue to struggle, with the chain’s July sales the worst reported since March 2003.