• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

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McDonalds fails to be believable

McDonalds fails. Brand problems.

McDonalds Fails
McDonalds Fails is a statement no one believed could happen

McDonalds seems to be losing share to other fast food and casual restaurants. Not too surprising from my perspective because the amount of competition has increased beyond belief. The choices for quick and other poor food choices has exploded.

There is even a new major player in a gas station (Sheetz). The category is rife with new entries and new day parts. It seems that everyone has entered the breakfast category.

One chain tried to create a Fourth Meal category, hoping to attract the morbidly obese. Some chains are now available 24 hours a day for the sudden need to get a burger and a thick and frosty drink after you unexpectedly wake up to pee at 3:30 am.

So what is the news for today? McDonalds fails is the news. McDonalds is repositioning itself as vegan. You think I am kidding? Well, actually I am because it would be absurd for McDonalds to claim such a position. They are actually moving into a position of quality ingredients.

To my thinking, it might just as well say it is vegan. But the truth about how McDonalds fails is almost as absurd. (Read another recent blog on McDonald’s here)

The art of branding with importance is a subtle formula. What you claim must be of highest emotional intensity to the target audience you wish to influence and you brand has to have an innate permission to claim it as true. I’m not sure of the validity of either support points for McDonald’s new position de jour.

McDonalds Fails Again

McDonalds fails. Ronald McDonaldRemember when McDonalds was about herd mentality? When the golden arches told us how many millions of our fellow foodies had been server?

How about when McDonalds was all about kids? Ronald McDonald and the Hamburgler all got their start here.

Hamburgler. McDonalds fails
The Hamburgler is trying to grow up

(Read an interesting update on the Hamburgler here). Happy Meals replaced the Big Mac as the signature dish. Playgrounds sprung up at the front of nearly every store.

Then McDonalds decided to try a dual strategy and excite adults with its Arch Deluxe burger.

McDonalds Fails Arch Deluxe
The Arch Deluxe was a monumental failure

In the past, a statement like McDonalds fails would have been absurd in itself.  No one REALY paid attention to the changes because McDonalds was the 800-pound gorilla who, it seemed, could do no wrong. It just ate everyone else’s lunch (pun intended).

But more scrutiny is on the aging chain now as its market share continues to slip. Operations and process improvements won’t save it this time. Possibly all McDonalds has going for it is a menu like everyone else but better locations.

McDonalds fails and Papa JohnsHopefully, McDonalds has great research indicating that better ingredients is the highest emotional intensity in the category.

I doubt that it is.

After all, The forgettable Papa John’s brand has been claiming the same thing for years with a massive TV spend that has the founder and owner in our face repeating the inane line at every turn.

Papa John’s spends more than any other pizza chain and yet it has never been able to get out of the less than $10 pizza wars. In other words, Papa John’s still competes on price. That is all it has going for it.

McDonalds Fails— Unbelievable Claims

mcDonalds failsThe problem for Mickey Ds is that the claim is unbelievable in its current brand’s permissions. No one thinks it has better ingredients and quality food.

We all believe it is mass produced hockey puck-like food. What’s in those shakes (that they can’t call milk shakes)? How many beaks and chicken feet are ground up and reformed into nuggets? What’s a McRib? What part of the sow does that come from? The ribless part?

Once you lose the brand myth from those that identify with you… well you have lost all of your equity. McDonald’s needs a brand makeover and not the costume festooned Halloween-like change it is proposing now.

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