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McDonald’s Outlines a Trio of Brand Goals

Jim Skinner’s last McDonald’s Corp. shareholders meeting as its CEO today followed the script of so many meetings that preceded it. Skinner and Don Thompson—McDonald’s president-COO, who succeeds him as CEO on July 1—vowed to stay a course that has been reaping rewards (such as the 8.9% jump in Q1 comp sales). A parade of impassioned animal-rights and anti-obesity activists wagged their fingers at management in defense of chickens and children, respectively. The usual assortment of gadfly shareholders requested McRib year-round, decaf espresso drinks for seniors or extended breakfast hours on Sundays. The company’s slate of directors was elected, and with that it was a wrap.

Jim Skinner

Don Thompson

Coincidentally, wraps may have been the most interesting bit of menu news from the meeting. Thompson, who long has championed seeing McDonald’s global menu holistically, noted that the chain needs to continuously innovate as it moves forward. In line with that belief, McDonald’s USA reportedly hired Shannon Johnson this week in the new post of director of culinary innovation.

In addition to the Chicken McBites pioneered in Australia and the new Cherry Berry Chiller beverage, Thompson mentioned McWraps, which the chain has been menuing—in chicken, beef and shrimp varieties–almost everywhere but here. Sources earlier indicated that McWraps might be McDonald’s next big menu thing in the U.S. Thompson was asked by a shareholder about the possibility of adding turkey to McDonald’s menu but shrugged it off as though unaware that Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s and others have had success with turkey burgers.

Optimizing the menu is one of three goals on which Thompson said the company is focused, but he stressed that the chain will not abandon “core classics” like the Big Mac. The second goal is modernizing the customer experience through renovation and new technologies. The third focus is broadening accessibility through later hours and more locations. Skinner added that accessibility also means offering “branded affordability at every price tier.” As reported here first, McDonald’s has been testing a new $1 cheeseburger under the McCruncher name as it looks at expanding its Dollar Menu.

A primary focus of McDonald’s estimated $2.3 billion global marketing budget over the next two months will be on the London Olympic Games (July 27 to August 12). The chain has helped train 70,000 volunteers who will work the games and this announced the 200 members of its Olympic Champion Crew who will man its four Olympics-venue restaurants. A Champions of Play children’s wellness initiative tied to the games already has begun. McDonald’s last week launched its Olympics-themed Flavours 0f the Games menu in Australia, which includes the beet-and-pineapple-topped Sydney Stack burger, but has added Olympics menus yet in the UK or the U.S.

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