Public relation is one marketing strategy that helps in the growth of product branding. An effective public relation activity can increase the popularity of one brand if done in a method that would provide benefits to the public. Among the many companies that race to being number one in the eyes of the public and within the industry where they belong is McDonald's. Since the company's birth decades ago, there have been a large number of public relation activities that they have pursued to gain the trust of the public in the fast food industry. Today, the company is among the famous fast food chains that are strategically located in many towns and cities, and most especially around the world.
In this paper, we will try to evaluate how public relation contributes to the brand of McDonald's. McDonald's is a well-known global fast food chain company and it is apparent, every now and then, that the company never fails to consider public relation as an essential element in its relationship with customers. The objective of this evaluation is to determine how effective public relation can facilitate the success of one company.
While trying to evaluate the relationship of public relation to McDonald's success in branding, this paper will also try to assess the different public relation activities of the company. How they are utilized as well as the benefits and advantages of the different public relation activities provide to the company will be assessed.
Finally, after the review and analysis of public relation strategies, as implemented by McDonald's, it is hoped that recommendations can be suggested to better strengthen the product branding of McDonald's.
The Relationship Between McDonald's Public Relations Activities and McDonald's Brand: The Contribution of Public Relation to McDonald's Brand
Most of us perhaps consider dining in at McDonald's from time to time. And with this experience, there is something, in a way, that makes us come back to McDonald's despite we know that what we can eat are the common McDonald's stuff which are buns, burgers, and fries. This special something that makes us wonder and come back at McDonald's are the products of the company's public relation strategies. The effect of which makes McDonald's the customary dine-in alternative when we need our foods be served fast.
If we are to look and compare the different fast food chains that exist in today's fast food industry, McDonald's is among those that tops as the fast food restaurant that promotes a wide variety of marketing strategies that blend with good public relation. Such marketing activities and promotions to the public seem to change frequently -- one marketing and public relation approach of McDonald's that never fails. Such frequent implementation of this strategy was indicated in an online article, "Strategic Public Relations" (2004), stating that
McDonald's introduces new products/concepts in its restaurants on a seemingly weekly basis.
This marketing and public relation strategy of McDonald's makes customers wonder what are the current new good offers at this fast food chain, thus provides the company with the opportunity of attracting people every now and then.
Since the birth of the McDonald's fast food chain, the company has offered a lot of public relation activities that has the characteristic of what we can call "can easily attract customers." All of which can be classified within profit-based strategies in which McDonald's offer the customers with unique products and services while they earn from such offers. One instance of which is the retail line of the fast food restaurant that was established and endorsed with the restaurant's food products. This includes action toys, casual clothing, and interactive books and videos (BBC News, 2004). According to McDonald's, as indicated in the BBC news article "Burger Giant Plans Clothing Range" (2004)
In a statement McDonald's said the clothing is intended to offer quality fabrics in styles that will endure "season after season."
Larry Light, McDonald's global chief marketing officer, said the move exemplified "a new thinking."
Such example of offering customers with good quality non-food retail lines is one way of McDonald's exemplifying good public relation to customers. That is, aside from their main objective of bringing foods which satisfy the customers' tastes, they also promote quality on their other products and services. This is because in the principles of marketing and public relations, which usually goes together, good quality on products and services results to satisfied customers, thus creating good relationship with them. From a quality forum published online, Tony Young, a legal counsel for the American Herbal Products Association, suggests the same principle stating that,
If the public relations campaigns aren't backed up by substance, they aren't worth anything. We have to have programs whereby quality is enforced, even if it is within the self-regulatory context. In the interim, manufacturers need to bring products up to compliance.
Thus, for McDonald's restaurant, one way of demonstrating how the company values its customers is the application of another strategy, which is public relation strategy. Canuckflack online (2005) indicates this as observed by many stating that,
There are some other observations about McDonald's shift in strategy, from marketing products and menus to entertaining the consumer through partnerships in music, sports, fashion and entertainment.
Globally, the public relation strategies that McDonald's implements can be said to never fail. Aside from the retail lines that the company established to build "friendship" with its customers, achieved by the entertaining and quality retail line products, the company also partners with other companies, groups, and individuals, to promote their own products and services. For instance, McDonald's is partnering this year with Destiny's Child, a group of singers. Destiny's Child will sing the fast food restaurant's campaign song "I'm Lovin' It" while McDonald's in turn will sponsor the band's international tour.
In 2004, McDonald's had successfully increased its level of good public relationship when the fast food restaurant sponsored the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. It has been one opportunity where they were given with the chance to bring McDonald's closer to peoples' heart, and "stomach" in a literal sense. The impact of which has been great because despite of the lawsuits that the fast food restaurant faced due to issues of causing obesity, sponsoring the 2004 Olympics gave them the way to promote their new products that are health-friendly to people. It is also one way of delivering to people their sincerity regarding health concerns of their customers, as well as their objective of improving their food menus in response to providing healthy food products to consumers.
Finally, this may not be noticed by many but we are unconscious how the McDonald's commercials promote good public relation to its consumers. From the family-oriented commercials of the fast food restaurant where good family relationships are exhibited, McDonald's itself demonstrate how it values the sense of being in a family or group of people relates well with each other. According to James Helmer (1992),
" ... It demonstrates how familial images were employed as a means of persuasion that ultimately portrayed McDonald's as a potential source of love and human happiness, as a place for being a family. What is suggested in the success of McDonald's advertising efforts is that the U.S. family recognizes the various human groups depicted in the commercials as reflections of itself. That is to say not only the most fundamental cultural institution, the family, is much changed but that McDonald's public messages have helped make its variations acceptable and legitimate, thus playing an influential role in its reconstitution."
In analyzing the different public relation activities at McDonald's, it is apparent that they are focused on delivering consumer satisfaction as indicated by the following activities.
Frequent promotions that offer customers with wide variety of products and services.
Establishment of retail lines that will allow the company to provide customers with not only satisfactory food products but entertainment, sports, and music as well.
Partnership and sponsorship with other companies and individuals to deliver McDonald's along with similar desirable products and services.(i.e., sponsoring the 2004 Olympics)
Despite of the obesity issues, the fast food restaurant just launched new food menus in response to health concerns and issues.
Strengthening the Brand
The well acceptance showed by the consumers in the different public relation activities of McDonald's is one simple proof that demonstrates how public relation strengthens McDonald's brand. The secret to this perhaps is that McDonald's simply aim to deliver satisfaction to its consumers, either in terms of food menu or in terms of retail line products. Despite of the lawsuits that say that McDonald's is an obesity-causing fast food chain, the large number of people that we see to go in and out of this fast food restaurant would only prove how good McDonald's is in terms of building its relationship with the public. That is, they merely satisfy what the consumers want.
Despite of the obesity lawsuits, McDonald's brand continuously strengthens. Faced by issues that challenge their relationship with the consumers, McDonald's did not give up the good relationship that…