Established in 1940, McDonald’s needs little introduction but to cover the basics: McDonald’s is a “global foodservice retailer with over 36,000 locations serving nearly 69 million customers in over 100 countries each day.” (Each day.) This month, McDonald’s is rolling out new packaging that will be in every location by the end of the year. AdAge reports that the design was the result of a week-long design blitz with one designer from each of its lead agency partners — Leo Burnett Germany, TBWA U.S., DDB Hong Kong, Creata Australia, Boxer UK, Landini Australia, and Forpeople UK — and the results later turned over to Boxer for full development and implementation.
Starting this month, McDonald’s restaurants in the United States will unveil new carry-out bags, fountain beverage cups and sandwich boxes. The new look is simple, fresh and consistent with the company’s vision to be a modern and progressive burger company. The new packaging rollout will expand worldwide to 36,000+ restaurants throughout 2016.
The designs feature colors that almost sound like the names of new McDonald’s smoothies or fancy burgers: Passionate Purple, Optimistic Orange, Ocean Fresh Blue, Zesty Lime and Magical Magenta. Of course, McDonald’s signature red and yellow also appear.
The packaging shown in the “before” image is the current reality for some McDonald’s eaters but others may be seeing some other version. Based on browsing the #mcdonalds hashtag on Instagram it seemed the image I chose is the most prevalent design in use. I have no idea, really, as I haven’t eaten at a McDonald’s in at least 15 years. But the lack of clarity about what the prevailing packaging is is a reason good enough to change.
The new look is being touted (and celebrated) as daring in its committee approach and bold in its execution. Give me a single agency any day of the week and a “bold” design that doesn’t rely on blowing Helvetica 500% and I’ll be happy, thank you. The design stands out, for sure, because it’s so different from what McDonald’s its competition has ever done. (Pro tip: probably for a good reason). At the same time it rides the wave of simplicity and stripping major brands to its bare bones. But this is rudimentary design at best trying to pass as iconic. The focus on “on” when exploding the McDonald’s wordmark on the bags is very confusing and extremely unappealing. There is nothing “on” about McDonald’s and, mostly, it just seems a very weird word to place so much emphasis, um, on.
Here are some shots of the packaging in the wild, to get a real sense of how they look:
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The more successful aspect of the redesign maybe are the boxes and product-specific bags (like the Egg McMuffin above) where the names are line-broken to hell and back and the type sizing varies from letter to letter. I could maybe rally behind that but the main bags and cups are just too off-putting for me. I rarely use the “this looks like student work” description in my reviews because it’s not the most helpful of critiques but in this case this does look to me like a student exercise of someone trying to make McDonald’s look hip but lacking expertise and refinement in typography, layout, and finishing to do it convincingly. I have the feeling that a lot of people will like this new look and I may be on my own in my dislike for it, which I can accept since 69 million people like McDonald’s every day and I don’t.
Plans are in development for coming back to Europe in Spring of 2018 with the current top contender host city of Barcelona.