McDonald’s CMO Deborah Wahl Discusses the Company’s New Brand Vision

There's lots of "lovin'" involved.

mcds cmoMcDonald’s has been in flux lately. We got word of a new tagline, then it wasn’t the tagline. The menu is changing. There have been issues overseas. Not to mention the ones at home, with competition like Chipotle chipping away at its customer base. So it’s important for the fast food giant to lay out what exactly they’re doing and why.

And they’ve brought out the big guns for the job: CMO Deborah Wahl, who sits down in a new clip to talk about what the heck is going on.


“The reason for this video today,” says Wahl at one point, “is moving from a philosophy of billions served to billions heard… We’re on a journey to change the relationship and conversation.”

The statement is an admission that the company has lost touch with its customers and must work to gain a new understanding of what customers want.

She goes back to those videos that show how McD’s food is made as evidence that they’re listening and answering difficult questions. To address those nagging health concerns, there’s fruit in children’s Happy Meals. The “Create Your Taste” platform will allow for customization. And then there’s that “simpler” menu, which will include  greater emphasis on fresh ingredients and a “farm to table” philosophy.

All of this is meant to be tied to the “lovin'” in the “I’m lovin’ it” tagline, “reigniting” it according to the press release that was pushed out with the clip.

“We recognize, and our customers do too, all the negativity that surrounds daily life and we are choosing to celebrate lovin’ more. McDonald’s is in a unique position to use its scale to bring back the positivity with more uplifting content and conversations in the lovin’ spirit,” the statement reads.

As the song says, love is the only thing that there’s just too little of. But is this the most effective message for McDonald’s to go with? The updates that Wahl outlines are so concrete. McDonald’s is in the people business as she says, but insomuch as it concerns hungry people looking for a meal. The changes announced are tangible ways to address that bit of everyday life that McDonald’s is tied to. Maybe what they could be “lovin” is delicious burgers, fries and salads? Maybe they have “love” for loyal customers who have been enjoying their Big Macs and Chicken Nuggets for years?

With so many options out there for just about everything, it helps when a company’s message is more specific rather than less. A company’s branding should hit with laser precision the crux of what the company is about and how that’s a benefit to paying customers.

That said, it’s clear that McDonald’s is jumping into 2015 with a plan to win over diners. In addition to everything mentioned, they’re making changes to uniforms and packaging, they have new ads (one is below) and they’re promising to listen more on social media. The company deserves credit for being bold enough to make big changes rather than digging in on things that don’t work. The key will be seeing it through in a way that resonates with customers.