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January 2015

Can McDonald's Be Saved?

Today, McDonald's (MCD) replaced CEO Don Thompson with incoming CEO Steve Easterbrook. McDonald's has been on a brand slide. They seemed to have gotten lost somewhere at the intersection of quality, value, menu innovation, flavor, and health.

Can McDonald's be saved? Sure. Others are prospering in fast food.  Think Chipotle (CMG) for a winner in health and quality, and Wendy's (WEN) for menu innovation and taste.  Plus, watch the Shake Shack (SHAK) IPO scheduled for tomorrow to see excitement in the burger business.

Then I came across this picture, and you start to think that maybe a McDonald's turnaround is possible:


An immediate prescription for success leaps off the page:

  • Simplify the menu to your roots, burgers
  • Prepare a burger that is flavorful
  • Use better beef (farm raised, antibiotic free)
  • Improve appetite appeal
  • Serve the food in a more contemporary way

The answer might lie in dividing the marketing program into three components that would serve as the foundation for an annual menu development and communications plan. Something like:

  • Better Burgers (to capitalize on the trend toward gourmet burgers and return to the foundation of the business)
  • Value
  • Innovation

McDonald's has a long road ahead starting with clean bathrooms and ending with appetizing restaurants and menu innovation. I would bet an 18 to 24-month road.