McDonald’s–Dissecting Our Nation’s Favorite Foods Ep. 1: Targets of Marketing


Dissecting Our Nation’s Favorite Foods

–A Series–


If you ask the average American, it will become clear that McDonald’s is one of the most dominating fast-food chain in the world as of 2018. Of course, everybody knows that’s the fast-food joint would never pass a the healthiest option when it comes to picking our food…but do we really know exactly how unhealthy it really is?

I took it upon myself to find out how the fast-food industry, specifically, McDonald’s has taken a toll on our health and why we still eat it knowing it’s not the best food for our bodies!  

Now, as a kid, I had a special place in my heart for McDonald’s. So the child in me doesn’t want to just demolish my childhood favorite. I wanted to attack this at a neutral angle. As someone who did not know a single thing about the food chain and researched it as if I have never even heard a rumor of McDonald’s. Of course, this is not entirely possible because I am human, but I did my best. If you are interested in the sources used for this, they will be linked below so you are free to check the information yourself if you have any doubts.

What is McDonald’s (Brief History) ?

McDonald’s is a fast-food chain started in 1948 (The exact year varied, but this was the most commonly cited date.) by Maurice (“Mac”) and Richard McDonald, who were brothers, in San Bernardino, CA. Their headquarters are currently located in Oak Brook, IL and by the 1990’s it was estimated that a new McDonald’s was opened worldwide every 5 hours. With the success, however, a lot of criticism came along with it. It’s association of worldwide obesity along with their seemingly underpaid employees brought a lot of questions to the mind of the millions of customer of the highly successful chain.


How Much Money is in McDonald’s Pocket?

37,241 stores in over 120 countries have an estimated operating income of $9.553 billion annually (2017). On average, each store located in the United States generates $2.6 million making McDonald’s surprisingly only to 5th place of the highest grossing chains across America.

For a chain with a bad reputation for being unhealthy and in general labeled as a place that serves “plastic”  tasting foods…how are they still filling pockets with the green that should be on our plates?


McDonald’s Marketing:

Unless you have been living under a rock or you are under the age of 15, you are probably aware of the effect marketing has on the success of businesses and brands. It is almost a guarantee that if you have successful marketing, you have a successful business. Of course, there are many other factors to account for…but marketing is one of the top priorities when it comes to building an unbreakable empire in the modern business world.

But McDonald’s has a few tricks up their sleeves when it comes to their marketing. Quite frankly, I find one of them in particular to twist my guts into knots when I hear about it. What could possibly do that to me, you ask? Well, I am more that happily disgusted to tell you.

Their main marketing target are children. Yes, that is commonly known to a point…but do we realize how much? Studies show that majority of children can recognize the McDonald’s logo before the age of two years old and 88% of children find that the “golden arches” are more recognizable that the Christian Cross. McDonald’s specifically targets children because they are quote, “…more malleable than hard headed adults…”


McDonald’s often donated toys to Toys-R-Us, often promoting Happy Meals (which contain a week’s worth of recommended salt intake) to children. Since 1974, the number of reported children’s cases of obesity has skyrocketed by 258%…while McDonald’s is not solely responsible for that statistic, we can assume that they are not helping it.

Two McDonald's Happy Meal with toy watches fashioned after the characters Donkey and Puss in Boots from the movie "Shrek Forever After" are pictured in Los Angeles

The McDonald’s Happy Meal alone collects $3 billion in annual sales. When children were asked why they chose Happy Meals as their favorite meal in 2017, 87% of children between 6-7 years old said their main motivation was the toy that came with the meal. While 80% of children ages 7-8  said their main motivation was also the toy.


However, we do have to give McDonald’s a little credit because in 2017, they are quoted as saying, “That’s just the beginning. We’re committed to giving you more delicious choices to feel good.” when referring to reducing the sodium and calories in the McNugget Happy Meal. I am still waiting to see some more significant changes to help the ever growing obesity epidemic we are facing…starting with the kid’s menu.

But How Do They Hook You?

They use a commonly used method of Arrival & Entry. If you notice, on arrival to any McDonald’s drive thru, you will see their signature range displayed in bright, vibrant colors. Colors that are proven to subconsciously want to eat more.

Just the imagery alone is enough to get anybody pulling their money out when you see the bright juicy flavors and colors displayed on a bright screen. We all know that is not what we are going to get when we open the brown paper bag…but our subconscious gives in anyway.

Reducing the quote on quote “psychological pain” that is involved with spending money is also a large part of this method. Often, more expensive featured options are promoted with just an image without a price present on the screen. People are more likely to pick what is first presented to them when given a choice…but price can often make the decision a little more tricky.

So what does McDonald’s do? Make the decision that much easier, by presenting the beautiful option first without the worry of the price bogging up your decision making abilities.  Imagery without direct pricing can soothe your mind into making decisions without heavily considering they cost vs the actual gain of what we are buying.

All of this in mind…some of our favorite foods couldn’t possibly be that bad…or is it? To find out…click onto the second part of this blog to see what is really in our favorite foods. I will dissect the top 8 rated foods from McDonald’s, the healthiest option v.s. the least healthy option, and the vegan options.


As for now, I hope this strikes the question: “What’s in your belly?”


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Para says:

    Thank you for the education! Interesting article… Different angle… But same yucky food. Lol

    Liked by 1 person

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