Whether Big Macs or donuts, we’re still lovin’ Maccas
Say hello to Australia’s canniest marketer.
Over the past ten years, Aussies have had every reason to turn their noses up at Maccas.
We started to get more worried about our waistlines. Maccas and the fast food industry got the blame. We became more sophisticated in our taste in food. Mickey D’s isn’t the place you go for a guava and custard apple snow egg. And we’re a nation of caffeine addicts. So we weren’t lovin’ the shortage of short blacks.
But when confronted with every fear we’ve had that could’ve damaged their business, McDonald’s have made sure that our Happy Meals still make us happy.
“Do you want fries with that?” became “do you want a fries or a salad with that?” As Masterchef altered our perceptions of good food and Wagyu steaks became popular, Ronald introduced us to the Angus burger. And many Australians love a good cafe, so Maccas became one. One that’s “a little bit fancy” at that. There’s a big but though.
Hamburglar wasn’t the worst nightmare of every homeowner for stealing salads. Judging by his gut, Grimace needs to be kept away from any gourmet meals. And Ronald McDonald wouldn’t be welcome in most fancy cafes wearing a ridiculous outfit like that.
Maccas have become a sophisticated brand. But the truth is their core business has barely changed. It’s still all about keeping us hooked on generally fatty fast foods.
Case in point: Maccas are trialling selling six-packs of Krispy Kreme’s glazed donuts at five outlets across New South Wales, a McDonald’s spokesperson told The Punch yesterday.
Krispy Kreme’s signature donuts are notoriously addictive. It’s impossible to just have one. They consist of “a potent mix of sugar and fat that we know primes the brain to seek out more and more sweet and fatty food,” nutritionist Susie Burrell said yesterday.
But that’s only one ingredient in cooking up a successful fast food chain.
For instance, just look at what happened to the Krispy Kreme company in Australia. Many Australian stomachs fell in love with their donuts in the early 2000s.
Franchise stores popped up everywhere. We gobbled them up. But we got over them pretty quickly. That’s because they had none of Maccas marketing savvy when it comes to selling fast food.
Maccas have had enduring popularity in Australia for more than 40 years now.
When you think of Krispy Kreme donuts you think of big globs of fat. Especially when they’re covered in a mountain of sugary coating, covered in more sugar, with sugar on top. You think of Chief Wiggum from The Simpsons.
When Krispy Kreme came on the scene, Australians were becoming more health conscious. And while Maccas adapted with menu additions like “Salads Plus”, Krispy Kreme didn’t.
That’s not the only reason Maccas has survived though. McDonald’s have tried to remain appealing to us at each stage of our lives.
I’d say a high percentage of Australians went to a Maccas birthday party when they were young. Probably with an ice cream cake. Kids have long been fascinated by their Happy Meals.
Maccas have sponsored a number of adolescent sports through the years. I remember receiving McDonald’s vouchers as prizes for Little Athletics. Another Puncher remembers a Big Mac voucher being the prize for winning a teenage tennis comp in the 1980s.
An inordinate number of adolescents have been known to use Maccas play equipment. Many adults develop a Maccas habit for life. And when kids start growing up and drinking alcohol, they soon learn that a vat of grease from McDonald’s is the best hangover prevention tool or hangover-easing solution.
And all along Maccas has adapted with the winds of change. When their competitors started telling us to Eat Fresh, Maccas brought out fresh products and fresh uniforms themselves. There are more than 800 outlets throughout Australia. I bet you can think of one or sixteen in a ten K radius right now.
The uniforms might be different, your burger might consist of a higher quantity of lettuce and the “restaurants” might just a little bit fancier than they used to.
But Ronald’s still laughing all the way to the bank for the same reasons he was a decade ago.
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