How McDonald's Works

McDonald's Reputation

McDonald's put out premium salads after receiving harsh criticism about its unhealthy food.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Although people argue about how much McDonald's and other fast food chains are to blame for obesity problems and other issues, it's clear that the accusations have scarred its reputation. As a result, the company has worked to improve its image.

For instance, after "Super Size Me" was screened at the Sundance Film Festival, McDonald's swiftly responded. Before the film had even reached a general audience, the company pulled the "Super-size" option from its stores in an effort to make the menu more health-conscious. In addition, by 2004, it introduced an adult Happy Meal called the Go Active! Happy Meal, consisting of a premium salad, bottled water and a pedometer. This wasn't the first time the company sought the health-conscious demographic. In 1991, it introduced the McLean Deluxe. This sandwich graced the menu only briefly, however, as it failed miserably in sales.


­McDonald's also faced the challenge of improving the perception of the career opportunities it offered. By the 1980s, the term "McJob" was coined to represent a dead-end, low-paying job. Although the term represents any job of this sort, it's based on McDonalds' occupations. After it made its way into common parlance and even the Merriam-Webster and Oxford English dictionaries, McDonald's made efforts to undo this negative reputation.­

­In the 2000s, it launched an advertising campaign to tout the advantages and upward mobility of working at McDonald's. It bragged, "McProspects - over half of our executive team started in our restaurants. Not bad for a McJob" [source: BBC]. McDonald's asked Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary to change their definitions of the term "McJob" so it wouldn't offend McDonald's employees. The request cited that more than a thousand crew workers have risen through the ranks to own and operate McDonald's restaurants [source: AP].

Lately, McDonald's has earned respect for its improved animal welfare and environmental policies. The company enforces standards on its meat suppliers, ensuring humane methods for handling livestock -- such as phasing out the debeaking of chickens. It also forbids suppliers from using growth hormones on livestock [source: Capell]. In 2007, McDonald's announced that it would buy coffee only from growers who are certified by the Rainforest Alliance. On top of that, some people argue that fast food is inherently greener than other options due to its efficiency [source: Forbes].

As McDonald's deals with its share of criticism, some people would argue that the business serves up Happy Meals and more to millions of kids and kids-at-heart throughout the world.

Still craving more of a fast food knowledge fix? Explore the links below.

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More Great Links


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