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  • Fred

An Analogy of Business in America

Walked into McDonalds this past week and thought to myself "apparently this is the future..."

As I approached the front counters, there were 4 giant touch screens to place my order from, and when I say giant, I mean giant. At 6 foot tall myself, I had to reach up in order to touch the top of the screen. Nice and big video displays. Clear, glitch-free graphics. Easy to navigate order screens, I could customize my order, if I chose (which is impressive, for McDonald's) and if you're computer savvy, no problems whatsoever. For older customers, a single register remained.

I sat at the table and waited for our order to come to the table in the remodeled dining room. Went to the restroom to wash my hands before the food came out and the bathroom was also remodeled with hands free sinks and hand driers. I also noticed how clean the restroom was. Everyone has a dirty McDonald's bathroom story, but this bathroom was designed to be easily cleaned. When I returned, the food was delivered to where we sat by the corresponding order number. I looked up at the big screen TV above our table. It wasn't set to a local channel, it was set to McDonalds TV....

McDonalds TV was a mix of commercials and light fare. The scroll on the bottom had the headlines of the day, but again, not hard news, current news mixed with lighter stories. As I watched, an ad for the Price is Right on CBS came on.

Just an aside. Drew Carey looks great. the sound was off, so I don't know if he souned great. The point is, Drew Carey is in his 11th year as host. 11 years, time flies. It seems like TPIR just changed hosts yesterday.

Mark Goodson, the original producer of the Price is Right, died back in 1992. But TPIR was a Mark Goodson Production until 2002 when Fremantle Media Productions bought the rights. Bob Barker is still around, he's 94, but keeping a low profile. The Price is Right just keeps chugging along with no original parts.

So not only could I watch MCD TV, there was free WiFi. The guy at the next table over was working on his laptop.

As I ate I noticed how well the drive-thru line moved. 2 drive-thru stations and parking spots for mobile phone orders.

Everything about McDonald's had improved in the past 20 years, and in some areas, like cleanliness, exponentially- Everything except the food, which wouldn't be a problem if McDonald's wasn't a restaurant. The Coca-Cola I drank was as good as 20 years ago, but not the fries. And not the hamburger. And not the milkshake. The points of delivery were streamlined and the experience was visually appealing, but even my favorite McDonald's Drink, Hi-C, was gone.

And, don't get me wrong, there is more of a selection of other things. More of a selection of foods I ain't eatin'.

As I realized my revelation about the food, MCD TV flashed a graphic on the screen about having sold 1.5 Billion packets of Apple Slices. I remember being a kid, eating french fries with so much salt on 'em that my fingers were coated. Unhealthy as hell, but they tasted better than today. Milkshakes are healthier, but in some states, McDonald's has to call their product "shakes," due to a lack of milkshake ingredients. And I remember greasy hamburgers that left residue on the wrappers. Not today. Nice and clean, very little of that nasty, artery clogging grease.

If you close your eyes and just pay attention to the taste, newcomer to the breakfast game Taco Bell actually has better food than McDonalds, the difference is you can have 10 cars in front of you in the drive-thru line at McDonalds and it only takes 2 minutes to get your Egg McMuffin and coffee. At Taco Bell you can order $4 worth of food and be the only one in the drive-thru line and you still wait 8 minutes. But again, you are talking about time, not content.

Why did I go to McDonald's for dinner this week? Because....

I'm not sure.

McDonald's isn't even the cheapest Hamburger option anymore.

When ranking National Chains by taste, McDonald's was:

14th of 15 - Spoon University

4th of 5 - Yahoo!

9th of 10 - Post Grad Problems

21st of 21 - Consumer Reports

Then I started to notice a trend. Every list I came across had McDonald's second last (to White Castle) or last by taste. I didn't even know White Castles were around anymore, they closed every single one in the Cleveland area.

If I had to rank the best burger by Restaurant Chains (within a 10 mile drive of my house) this is how the BOS rankings would shake down, using the premise if price was out of the equation, where would I eat.

10. Rally's - The only thing I like about Rally's are the Milkshakes.

9. McDonald's - Oh, I forgot. The McNuggets are better today.

8. Burger King - Everything is good about Burger King, except the fries.

7. Dairy Queen - Always satisfied at DQ

6. Bob Evans - Known for breakfast, they have surprisingly good burgers.

5. Wendy's - I could eat at Wendy's everyday. Good food, good price. (But my kids don't like it.)

4. Culver's - Good quality food.

3. Steak and Shake - What a greasy spoon should be.

2. Five Guys - I could eat at Five Guys everyday, but then I'd be bankrupt.

1. Mr. Hero - I could eat a RomanBurger everyday, but then I'd weigh 500 pounds.

Right now, McDonald's would dispute everything I just said.

They are #1....

In U.S. Systemwide sales.

This is a photo from Business Insider reporting on McDonald's success.

Does it make your mouth water?

(Hint: No.)

And if you Google

McDonald's #1 Fast Food Chain, you get a lot of articles, from business sites like


QSR Magazine

and Sports Illustrated??????

Which got me thinking, don't you see the Golden Arches at events everywhere you go? It's an iconic international advertising brand. So besides having the easiest way to get a hamburger, open 24 hours, 2 drive-thrus, state-of-the-art dining room and digital purchase points. All of these improvements are reinforced by one of the largest global marketing campaigns in all of business.

I then went on over to the McDonald's Corporate Sponsorship page and they are proud sponsors of international sporting events like the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.

That's $100 Million-ish for the Olympics and $25 Million-ish for the World Cup

McDonald's only has 3 Corporate Sporting Sponsorships? That doesn't sound right.

I know that McDonald's also sponsors the Jamie McMurray car in NASCAR.

They have a corporate tie-in with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cleveland Indians used to have Big Mac Mondays.

Even the Cleveland Monsters (of the AHL) had the Monsters Dinner Box this past year.

The only local team with no recent McDonald's tie-ins seems to be the 1-31 (over the past 2 years) Cleveland Browns.

But the NFL and McDonald's used to be corporate partners. Locally, who could forget the scrumptious MDP?

So if you strip away all of the modern business practices of McDonald's, where are you?

Does the product dictate the marketing or does the marketing dictate the product?


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