Sunday, May 29, 2005

I'm lovin' it

The kids and I made our semi-monthly trek to Target and McDonald's today. In McDonald's, there was a sign touting their new "Fruit & Walnut Premium Salad," which looked like apples, grapes and walnuts. Members of Destiny's Child were admiring the outsized apple slices in the salad bowl (they were on the poster, that is, not in our McDonald's).

I'm all for healthier meals at fast food venues. But walnuts and Destiny's Child at McDonald's?

A Google search reveals that this is part of a "multidimensional global relationship" between two corporate entities. McDonald's is underwriting DC's tour, which is titled "Destiny Fulfilled -- and lovin' it!" In exchange, the members of DC are acting as "global ambassadors" for McDonald's:

“Just like McDonald's, the popularity of Destiny's Child knows no geographic boundaries, and this incredible tour brings that universal appeal to life in multiple cultures, continents and communities,” said Larry Light, McDonald's Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer. “Music continues to be at the forefront of our leadership marketing strategy. Our sponsorship of the tour is a great example of how this partnership helps McDonald's reach consumers worldwide through the universal language of music.”

I'm sorry, but this is a downright weird attempt at synergy where none really exists. McDonald's has been struggling and they are trying to exploit - or create - a bunch of vague associations with the brand to try to leverage some buzz. The result is an odd stew indeed, a throw-anything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks strategy: McDonald's food is bad for you. So buy a salad. McDonald's food is predictable and mediocre. So have some walnuts. McDonald's is dull and kind of grimy, but Destiny's Child is popular and beautiful. McDonald's targets African-American customers, Destiny's Child is a pop-R&B group. Etc.

Lately, this campaign has morphed into an even stranger animal:

NEW YORK (May 4, 2005) – McDonald’s, in a fashion inspired press event, announced today the latest addition to our company’s salad portfolio as a part of our new spring line. The Fruit & Walnut Premium Salad includes premium fresh fruit: USDA #1 sliced apples and red seedless grapes, with a side of low-fat vanilla yogurt and candied Diamond® walnuts to sprinkle on top. The new Fruit & Walnut Premium Salad is part of McDonald’s on-going commitment to encourage food-energy balance.

McDonald’s Balanced, Active Lifestyles ambassadors, Destiny’s Child, Venus Williams, Bob Greene, Dr. Ro and Dayanara Torres were on hand to help McDonald’s executives walk the “green” carpet as they debuted our newest addition to the popular and great tasting Premium Salad line.

If, seeking to become a Balanced, Active Lifestyles ambassador, I take my salad portfolio to a fashion-inspired press event on a "green" carpet (do the quotation marks mean "not red" or that we are into some truly radical space on the color palette?) with Destiny's Child and meet Venus Williams and Bob Greene, Miss Universe and Dr. Ro - is s/he on Star Trek or the President of South Korea? - maybe I'll hit the sweet spot in the demographic. Or maybe I should sit down, have a stiff drink and figure out how to keep my bathrooms clean.