New slogan won't put new spin on same old junk food

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 2003, Debra LoGuercio, all rights reserved

Brilliant marketing minds are at work, folks. McDonald's has a fresh new slogan that's going to make us dash off to the Golden Arches and stuff our bellies with Big Macs.


They may think it's the slogans that entice us to buy junk food from a creepy clown, but that's merely corporate superstition. It has nothing to do with slogans and everything to do with willpower. Specifically, a toddler's willpower, which, like time and space, cannot be quantified. Whatever its exact value, it is significantly greater than that of a parent's.

Just take a toddler on a car trip, and after he's been kicking the back of your seat for 75 miles and wailing like a cat with its tail in a pencil sharpener, you'll do anything to relieve the stress before you burst like pimple on prom night. And there's nothing like cheap food, a free toy and 15 minutes or so in the tank full of plastic balls to burn the excess jet fuel off a 3-year- old.

You can take a break, sip a Diet Coke and let your frazzled nerves recover while Junior's orbit decays in the plastic play yard. Within a half hour or so, you're back on the road and your little darling is conked out in his car seat with a Chicken McNugget in one hand and a Hot Wheels in the other.

Cost of the Happy Meal? About three bucks. Cost of keeping you from unhinging your jaw and eating your young? Priceless.

From a parent's perspective, I'll admit, the "You Deserve A Break Today" slogan was right on target.

However, that wasn't McDonald's first slogan, and I hesitate to even mention the first, because once I do, it will rise from the ashes of your subconscious and fly around in your brain for days, and you'll find yourself inexplicably singing it while you're pushing your cart at the grocery store or standing in line at the bank. And you'll have me to thank. But I would be remiss if I didn't mention McDonald's first foray into slogan superstition. This is where it all began: TwoAllBeefPattiesSpecialSauceLettuceCheesePicklesOnionsOnASesameSeedBun.

Please don't hate me. It'll stop in a week or two, I promise.

The original run-on-sing-song was replaced with "You Deserve A Break Today," which in turn gave way to the rather benign and unobtrusive "We Love To See You Smile." Now there was a slogan that couldn't possibly offend anyone, but apparently it didn't really excite anyone either. "We Love To See You Smile" just wasn't sexy enough. McDonald's profits have been slipping over the last few years, which could only mean one thing: a new slogan is in order.

Couldn't be the grease, now could it. Or the fact that Taco Bell can feed us for the same price with much less wear and tear on the arteries. McDonald's, if Taco Bell installs playgrounds, I have one word for you: Worry.

Obviously, a new slogan (rather than - DUH - healthier food) would plug the profit bleeding, so McDonald's rounded up a fresh crop of the mightiest minds in the business to conduct consumer research and gather focus groups. The end result was a brand-spankin' new catch phrase that will saturate every TV and radio station (and therefore our brains) for the rest of the summer. And for all this expense and effort, what did these highly-paid MBA wunderkinds produce? "I'm Liking It."

These folks make more money in one day than I do in a month, and THIS is what they come up with? "I'm liking it"? Three words? Jeez Louise, I produce at least 800 more words than that in this space every week for what those bozos spend on cappuccinos at break time. Something is definitely wrong with this picture.

On the other hand, maybe having trained, youthful marketing executives ultimately is more frugal than hiring a cranky old editor, because I would've taken out my little red pen, weeded out the passive voice and trimmed that billion-dollar slogan down to a tidy "I like it." That's three less letters for the same salary. Pound for pound, that makes me more expensive than those fancy PR yuppies. Which means McDonald's just can't afford me. (Hey, I have to wring some self-esteem out of life wherever I can. I work for the Winters Express.)

According to CNN's report on this new slogan, "I'm liking it" will attract a "younger, hipper crowd."

Hello... McDonald's already panders its grease-soaked garbage to toddlers, with the added lure of free toys and a playground. True, you might find a hipper crowd than the rugrat demographic, but I don't think you can hook a much younger crowd unless Ronald McDonald offers himself as a wet-nurse at the drive-through. And if he still says "I'm liking it" at the same time, I can't even tell you how creeped out I'll be. Which will make me think of one slogan, and one slogan only: Yo quiero Taco Bell.