The Life and Death Situation of McDonald's

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by Jacqueline Yeo

We all know Singapore turned 50 this August, but did you know that McDonald’s is celebrating their 60th anniversary in America this year? Ah, but before we lose you; don’t worry, this is not going to be a defamatory article on the McDonald’s – the international media has already given enough negative coverage so we won’t be doing that here. What we will be covering though, is its recent sad situation – and they are definitely not lovin’ it!

To start this off: Are you aware that in 2014, McDonald’s had its worst financial year throughout its history? While they have been meeting with stunted growth in the previous years, it was only last year that – boom! Close to 900 outlets of theirs closed altogether! The numbers in its financial report came out in so much red that they forbade reporters from attending its shareholder call in May. For such bad figures, someone somehow – namely the CEO of McDonald’s, Don Thompson – had to be held accountable. Thus, the veteran who rose through the ranks after flipping burgers for 20 odd years resigned from the post he held on for only about 3 years. Damn, we bet his bum hadn’t even warmed up his seat in the office!

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Actually, the bad numbers on its report isn’t very surprising, judging from its recent events. Remember the expired meat episode in Asia in 2013? The scandal involved McDonald’s employing of a factory in China which repackaged expired meat into bags with new due dates. Although it only claimed to have affected China, Japan and Hong Kong, we speculate that the genuine fear about what goes on in their kitchens once again spread like wildfire, just like the defaming video that was shared across the internet which featured how their food was mishandled – there was such a lack of hygiene control that employees have been seen throwing food that’s fallen on the floor back into the meat processors, which was later served to customers.

Another death knell on MacDonald’s is perhaps the fact that it’s marketed as a cheap and fast option for the hungry masses. While the premise may have worked in its favor during its formative years (eating out was expensive), these days with the growth of the economy and the higher income of the average folk, people have more options for food. Over time, eating healthy has become more important than eating cheaply – who would prefer to eat burgers churned out on conveyor belts over gourmet sandwiches? The rise of healthier fast foods and consumer education on nutrition has also turned the tables on the once-mighty fast food chain.

Perhaps the glorious years are really over for them, or would they surprise us by taking a turn for another golden opportunity? Will their new campaign featuring healthy salads be enough to win us over? Or will they resort to Happy Meal toys to lure in the masses? Whatever it may be, it seems like they will be having a pretty stressful 60th birthday!

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