McDonald's Socially-Distances Their Golden Arches

by Bill McCool on 03/23/2020 | 2 Minute Read

Brands jumping in on the coronavirus pile-on is starting to feel a little icky. 

In a way, you can’t blame them, and you know they truly can’t help themselves or get out of their own way. After all, they have to flood your eyeballs on the daily and remind you of their existence, and in a fractured marketplace where folks now have to acclimate themselves to the new normal that is practicing social distancing and watching Frozen II ad nauseam, it’s a complicated time for brand messaging. 

Some brands have taken to converting their manufacturing arms and producing items that we are desperately in short supply of, as was the case with Anheuser-Busch since they decided to start making hand sanitizer. 

Others have just made incredibly poor choices. Not the kind where you consistently downplay a pandemic and send the markets crashing, but the tone-deaf kind that says please stay away from each other, but also buy our hamburger patties with cheese.

Editorial photograph

McDonald’s decided to alter their Golden Arches, distancing both of the curvatures in their logo to promote the idea of social distancing; while it’s not quite six feet, the message is still loud and clear. Working with agency DPZ&T, McDonald’s Brazil wanted to implore consumers to please stay away from one another, so that, someday soon, the golden arches would open their doors and not just their drive-thru windows once again because, fingers-crossed, we really don’t want to miss out on McRib season because we're all dead.

And sure, that’s a noble idea. Every spring-breaker in Florida should be doing just this and not compromising the lives of the elderly or immunosuppressed. However, while delivering a critical message about the importance of social distancing, it would help if the messenger would provide paid sick leave for all of their employees who could potentially get infected with the virus. 

Last week, The New York Times released a video detailing how a majority of McDonald’s workforce lacks the necessary paid sick leave should they become infected with COVD-19. Today, 52% of fast-food workers in the US need some kind of government assistance to pay the bills, so self-quarantining, when you display some of the symptoms of coronavirus, is likely not in the cards for you.

Currently, McDonald’s has adjusted their paid sick time policy and increased the amount to 14 days, which sounds like a step in the right direction, but that only applies to corporate-owned restaurants and doesn’t concern franchise stores. How many McDonald’s locations are franchisees? Over 90%. Also, McDonald’s made just a little over $21 billion last year. So, you say potato, I say, I would not like to get sick when I am purchasing an unreasonably tall pile of hashbrowns.

Anywho, this is all to say that this might not be the ideal way to respond to a global pandemic.

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