Who Made French Fries Illegal?

July 28, 2011 | blog | By Mike Sullivan

Oh, the plight of the market leader! McDonald’s has been the fast food industry top dog for decades, so they know all too well the unique challenges success can bring. Like any top spot, dominance of a business category isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The chirpy responses of McDonald’s nutrition director to press inquiries about the company’s decision to reduce fries and add apple slices to Happy Meals belies an absolutely miserable position.

As the great ad man David Ogilvy once remarked, “The consumer is not a moron; she’s your wife. Don’t insult her intelligence.”

Anybody who’s paying attention knows McDonald’s isn’t walking away from a product customers want out of a self-directed mission to save Americans from their dietary pleasures. They’re responding to the merciless antagonism of governmental and self-appointed nutrition hawks. Why else would a savvy marketer like McDonald’s respond to customers who order apple slices instead of fries just 11% of the time by cutting the portion of fires it serves with Happy Meals and throwing apples at their patrons? Next up, free apple slices courtesy of your local McDonald’s dumpster. That, and an August “listening tour” announced by McDonald’s for its president Jan Fields. The problem is that she is compelled by the pressure to listen to nutrition experts and not real customers. Do a Google search on “public relations” for more on that.

I’m all for smart nutritional choices, but I’d like the right not to make them. Thankfully, there will always be challenger brands willing and able to serve customers what they really want.

advertisingcategory leaderchallengerdavid ogilvyfast foodnutrition

Mike Sullivan

President at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency


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