Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A McDonald's Wedding (almost)

Friends of The McChronicles, Beth and Greg, recently celebrated their wedding. It was pretty much your typical protocol up until the junior bridesmaid announced that she was hungry.

You guessed it! On their way from the ceremony to the reception, the entire wedding party swooped into the North Utica, NY McDonald's for a little nutrition.

This store features a rockin' '50s theme, complete with neon lights and a juke box. What a cool place for a post-nuptial pit stop.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Images: The groom.

Taipei McDonald's Cleans Up (side down)

Chinese New Year is a time for renewal. People clean their homes and businesses in preparation of a fresh start. The Taipei, Taiwan McDonald's is no exception.

Flickr member Katong posted this image of upside down arches recently. He explains on his posting:

"Two days before Chinese New Year in Taipei, Taiwan. Part of the New Year ritual is a spring cleaning before the first day of New Year. Everything gets cleaned, including signboards! The crew cleaning this McDonald's sign
was on a break."

Great image, Katong, and very interesting. Thanks.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Image: Katong on Flickr

Monday, January 30, 2006

A McDonald's Valentine's Day Proposal

According to an excellent report by our friends over at A Hamburger Today (such great writers):
"For the 16th year, White Castle will turn hundreds of restaurants into love dens. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a night you'll likely forget in a week, go to White Castle and be seated by a well-dressed hostess at a table, complete with candlelight and tablecloth. At this point, you can feel free to stuff your faces. Even better, you could stuff each others."

According to the report, this event is so popular that customers have to make RESERVATIONS! For a White Castle!

The McChronicles proposes that McDonald's copy this practice and turn up the heat on February 14th. It would be great fun and it would give a lot of people something cool to talk about on the 15th. Heck, you'd give SOME people a story to tell the rest of their (soon to be) married lives. Come on - loosen up a little!

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Multiple Arch Cards

The McChronicles combined two McDonald's Arch Cards today. It went off without a hitch.

First we asked the crew person if this was possible (we'd heard it was - wanted to see if they were confident of the fact). They were 90% sure it would work.

We gave them one of those free $1 cards from Christmas - it worked - then our regular Arch Card. We all watched with expectation until it, too, worked its magic.

The receipt told us that card #1 was empty and that card #2 still had a balance available.


The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Image: The McChronicles.

Washington Mills McDonald's Funky PlayPlace

OK, it's not really an official PlayPlace, it's more like a Kids Arcade. But it is kind of cool.

The Washington Mills, NY McDonald's used to feature a real fenced-in pit that contained playground-type fun, including cool balls to whip around. It was surrounded by railings that protected parents from the antics occurring below. Today the pit is filled in but the kid-friendly attitude remains - now in the form of an arcade.

Store #: 2454
Time: 12:24
0 seconds
Order Wait: 30 seconds
Service: Great
Quality: Very good
Cleanliness: Fair (wintry mud tracked in)
The arcade offers up air hockey (out of order at this visit), foosball, a video game console like you find in the stores that sell video games, and a handful of little kids games. It's a pretty cool place - and the perimeter is lined with tables from which watchful adults can survey the situation.

This restaurant is worth the trip if you've got kids, or if your inner child is still rattling around unfulfilled.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

McChronicles Views Official McDonald's Blog

"Open For Discussion" is the title of McDonald's official blog. We don't know when it launched but (as of this posting) it appears to have only one posting.

The description for the blog is: Perspectives on McDonald’s aspirations, activities, and challenges as we work to make a difference on corporate social responsibility issues that matter.

So, they have taken an interesting path for their first known public blog venture.

It's a very professional blog - in appearance and in structure. The McChronicles is very interested to see what comes forth from this interesting endeavor.

Many thanks to the McChronicles followers who brought this to our attention.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Image: Screen grab from: http://csr.blogs.mcdonalds.com

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

NBC Today Show Losing Weight At McDonald's

NBC's Today Show is running a daily story on how to lose weight. Their expert has guided Al Roker to losing 12 pounds while eating at McDonald's (among other places).

Here is a crude screen grab from today's show. Al is chatting from the Times Square McDonald's about the diet with McDonald's ORIGINAL Ronald McDonald, Willard Scott.

Go Al!

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Image: The McChronicles.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Shapes of Chicken McNuggets


Quoting from our comment to King Power Cinema, on his Flick'r account, The McChronicles said:

"These McNugget images are pure poetry. And the fact that you enlighten us to
the deeper significance borders on magic. Excellent work."

Image #1: Illinois
Image #2: Lousiana (sic)
Image #3: Arkansas

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Images: King Power Cinema

McDonald's Supplies

For the customer, the moment of truth is NOW. Every time we walk into a McDonald's, it's OUR time, OUR experience, and OUR judgment. Actually, isn't it the same for all consumer-based businesses?

So, like anyother customer, when The McChronicles dropped into Utica, NY's Mohawk Street McDonald's for a late lunch today, we hoped, expected that all would go well. Alas, it was not so.

  • Store: Mohawk Street, Utica, NY
  • Store #: 5340
  • Time: 13:30
  • On Line Wait: 0 seconds
  • Order Wait: 45 seconds (fairly complex order for two people)
  • Quality: good
  • Service: very good
  • Cleanliness: good (this store always manages to look good, even in the winter)

Even though the store has two very large capacity napkin dispensers (the kind we rave about on The McChronicles), they were empty. These dispensers offer the crew both large capacity AND a simple, foolproof, early warning that the supply is dwindling. Both were empty. See the image - the red indicator was screaming at us from across the room (directly in front of, and near, the counter staff).

Then, when we went for the ketchup, the little paper cups were totally depleted.

When we asked the crew to help out - they did so in a very apologetic, helpful, and quick manner. They were very nice about it - and the whole affair wasn't that big of a deal (saved by the great attitude of the crew).

But ... this was the moment of truth. A customer decided to grant a company their business. A customer expected to receive the service that is touted in all the advertisements. A customer was about to build/reinforce an impression of this business.

McDonald's, take care not to get so busy that you run completely out of the 1,000 napkins that the dispensers will hold. Be sure that your customers can get all the stuff they need, when they need it.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Images: The McChronicles

Ramapo Rules!

The McChronicles was whipping south on Interstate 87 (parallels the Hudson River and takes you right into New York City) when we felt the need. You guessed it - McDonald's!

Right on cue, the Golden Arches loomed ahead. We pulled in and ... wham! It hit us - this McDonald's is kind of special. No, there wasn't an amazing theme, a cool mural, or a world-class PlayPlace. Instead, the Ramapo, NY store (#12030) offered up a simple, elegant, dignified environment in which to enjoy a bit of fast food pleasure.

All items were bright and sparkly. The floor was CLEAN (thank you very much). Service was fast and attentive. And the ambiance was clearly above-average for a fast food restaurant.

The counter was very clean and orderly - obvious pride. And The McChronicles was very impressed with the logical, clean, and spacious area in which to select and collect our straws, napkins, etc. Someone was thinking from the customer's point of view when they laid this place out.

We'd like to see ALL McDonald's eliminate the non-customer-friendly (confusing) drink lid dispenser. How about replacing it with something logical? How about LARGE at the top, MEDIUM in the middle, and SMALL at the bottom (with clear, professional labels)?

And, when it comes to condiments (in the iced tea area), this store falls victim to the same old thing that rubs us the wrong way across North America - those unprofessional, temporary YELLOW labels. How about acting like you're permanent and springing for some world-class condiment labels?

This store is highly recommended if you want a respectful, clean, fast McDonald's experience.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Images: The McChronicles

China + McDonald's + Olympics = COOL PLACEMAT

McDonald's has a long tradition supporting and being involved with the Olympics. And, as we all know, China is hosting the upcoming summer games. This makes for a great opportunity to build the fervor by reminding Chinese customers (the world's hosts in 2008) of just how strong the McDonald's/Olympics relationship is.

The McChronicles was served up a juicy hot McDonald's meal on top of this informative placemat last week.

The information goes back to 1968 - and every entry is pretty interesting.

This should help people get excited about the huge party that is coming up. Expect over 1,000 McDonald's to be operating in China by then!

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Image: The McChronicles

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

China's NEWEST McDonald's Drive-Thru Rocks!

The McChronicles recently reported on the opening of China's first drive-thru McDonald's. To quote ourselves, "This is a big deal." So, we ran right over to China to check it out.

While in China The McChronicles uncovered China's second and NEWEST McDonald's drive-thru. This little secret is in Shanghai's Wai Gao Qiao commercial zone. According to our sources, the brand new store opened very recently. It sure sparkles like brand new - we spotted it from pretty far away (it stood out in a sea of relatively bleak-looking industrial buildings). Those golden arches looked awesome.

Not only is it attractive, but it is in a great location. Wai Gao Qiao is a place where tons of suppliers, sales people, and more drive to meet with a huge collection of manufacturers that populate the zone. The new McDonald's sits just within the custom gates (visible in the video below). It is a great spot to grab a bite to eat either before or after a big meeting or long road trip.

Notable items:
  • When we were there the place was rocking. The dining room was packed and the drive-thru line was long.
  • The drive-thru moved much slower than those we are accustomed to. Remember, the restaurant just opened. We are 100% sure that the Chinese penchant for operational excellence will sort this out very quickly.
  • Instead of having the customer order through a remote speaker, this drive-thru features a real person taking the order. Our Indian contributors tell us that this is the case there as well. In fact, there was an abundance of crew and security staff. It is typical, in China, for any such establishment to have a team of security on hand.
  • Our Chinese (Mandarin)-speaking staff assure us that the entire transaction was totally professional - and that great service was provided. This can be witnessed in the video.

The McChronicles had to edit together several small video clips to make this video as our camera only records up to 3 minutes per burst. And, embarrassingly, we totally blew it at the last minute and didn't capture the final step of the transaction. Apologies - please excuse us.

Trust us - the transaction ended in a great way. The crew was very, very professional and the food was awesome. We were hungry and quite anxious to test this new store.

Line Wait: forever
Order Wait: a bit too long
Quality: Excellent
Service: Excellent
This experience was so fun and rewarding that we didn't need to find the FIRST Chinese drive-thru. We had found the NEWEST!

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Images: The McChronicles

Top: drive-thru entrance
Middle: drive-thru order taker waiting for the next car
Bottom: video of drive-thru experience

Sunday, January 15, 2006

McDonald's Hamster Ad

On behalf of all the NFL fans who were watching today's playoff game preview, NFL on CBS, The McChronicles has to ask, "What the heck was that??!?!??!?"

The Hamster Ad features a huge hamster chatting with a silent Ronald McDonald statue outside a football stadium. The hamster is sharing his plan for breaking into the NFL.

When the Hamster Ad is analyzed along with the other McDonald's ads aired during the pregame show (eg. the hors d'oeuvres Ad for the Double QPC - double quarter pounder with cheese), it is easy to see that the company is aiming at adult males. So, obviously this quirky spot was designed to appeal to a very specific demographic. Interestingly, when we typed in: www.mcdonalds.com/PoundOne (as it appears in the TV ad) we were told "Requested File Not Found". What's up? What a miss for McDonald's to spend all that ad money only to offer up a broken link. As a customer, The McChronicles wonders what it missed.

That said, the Hamster Ad is one of the most unusual McDonald's ads The McChronicles has seen in recent memory. We wonder, is this supposed to be a response to those ridiculous BK ads that feature the silent and strange King? If so, we still maintain that (especially during the Super Bowl and its playoffs) McDonald's should "Reebok" BK.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Images: screen grab taken by the McChronicles. Source: CBS TV
top: Hamster Ad
bottom: hors d'oeuvres Ad

McShawarma Ad: A Fun Takeoff from Israel

Our good friends in Israel are enjoying this playful McDonald's McShawarma ad (on the OneJerusalem.com blog) which is an obvious (and well-crafted) takeoff on the memorable scene from Pulp Fiction.

In the video, note the zipper wrapper, just like the new FAN-tastic sandwiches in Taiwan and Singapore. Also note the global, "I'm Lovin' It" jingle at the end.

The McChronicles had to look at this clip three times to confirm that this WASN'T Samuel L. Jackson. Wow!

Can you submit any other cool ads? If so, please comment.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: OneIsrael.com

Interview: Shenzhen's Jean Si

The McChronicles was fortunate enough to catch one of the most inspiring McDonald's store managers in action. Here's how it went.

After a long day of visiting McDonald's restaurants in the Shenzhen China area, we started feeling hungry. While walking down a busy street we spotted a brightly-glowing set of Golden Arches. With a quick bound up one flight of stairs (typical in most big-city McDonald's) we entered one of the brightest, cleanest, warmest-feeling McDonald's we have ever visited.

The restaurant was bustling yet spotless. The crowd was peaceful yet upbeat. The line was full but moving swiftly. The crew was busy but productive and energetic. How did all this happen? One word: MANAGER.

McDonald's Store Manager Jean Si graciously agreed to spend a little time with The McChronicles, sharing her recipe for a crowd-pleasing store (the interview was conducted using an English-Mandarin translator).

McChronicles: How long have you worked for McDonald's?
Ms. Si: Eight and a half years. I was an Assistant Manager
for 3 and a half of those years and a Manager for one year.

McC: Is your store company-owned or a franchise?
Si: All China stores are owned by McDonald's.

McC: OK - let's get right down to it. What is your
favorite part of working as a McDonald's manager?
Si: That's easy - the teamwork.

McC: Tell us about your crew.

I have 60 crew members. Most are not from this city or region. The turnover is very large and creates some challenges. They all work hard.

McC: Do you communicate with other store managers in the area?
Si: Yes. We have periodic district manager meetings amongst four local McDonald's. This is a great learning environment - with a lot of teamwork. I really learn a lot from these meetings. For me these meetings are very important.

To the McChronicles, it seems that the community's personality has a lot to do with the personality of the local McDonald's. Can you share your feelings on that?
Si: My store is located in a shopping mall that specializes on children's products. Therefore, we host a lot of children and families. They do create our store's personality. It is fun.

Ms. Si was a most accommodating host - and an obviously proud and humble representative of McDonald's. The McChronicles shared with her that we feel the store manager is THE key position in a store. They are the middleman between the top management and the front-line crew. The customer only meets the front-line crew, so our experience is in their hands. It is the manager that guides these hands. She agreed, and expressed a full appreciation of her responsibilities to her management and to her customers. She also repeated that her crew was an excellent group of hard workers who truly care.

Jean, we really felt your influence during our visit. The experience was superb.

Online Wait: 15 seconds
Order Wait: 60 seconds
Service: Excellent. A girl asked if we needed help carrying our trays to our table. She helped us get situated.
Quality: Perfect.
Cleanliness: Excellent

Store: Huaqiangbei
Branch (Shenzhen, China), G/F & 1/F of Shangbu Industry District, 102 Hua
Qiang (N) Road, Futian

Approaching the store from the street

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with McDonald's.
The McChronicles

Top: Store Manager Jean Si
Middle: Shots of the dining and counter areas. Very clean and bright.
Bottom: Ms. Si with Chinese New Year decorations fabricated from McDonald's product packaging. Very festive.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

In-Store Videos: Singapore

Singapore's Tanglin Mall McDonald's (a very raucous and noisy store - see earlier post) offers up in-store videos on various topics. Periodically a McDonald's ad pops up.

The McChronicles managed to grab this excerpt for your review. It is promoting the new FAN-tastic sandwiches (also previously posted about).

These in-store videos can be great when they offer up real value. The McChronicles suggests topics such as local information, news, and the latest McDonald's stuff - including the good deeds done by the company. We don't think they get enough credit for their charity and goodwill.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hong Kong International Airport's McCafe

The McChronicles needed dinner while in Hong Kong's International Airport. Naturally we dropped into the spotless McCafe.

The service was quick and smooth. The food was great. One of our team commented that the fries were exactly like they are everywhere else. Perfect.

We really enjoyed the atmosphere of this beautiful airport. McDonald's did a great job of combining a typical restaurant feel with an open-air airport view.

The McChronicles; A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Images: The McChronicles

McDonald's Political Cartoon

The McChronicles typically stays out of the political arena, but we thought this inclusion of McDonald's by the super-successful satirist Tom Toles was funny and poignant. McDonald's is so big that the politicos use them as a metaphor for all problems.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Image: by Tom Toles. Copyright 2006 The Washingtom Post, Universal Press Syndicate. From news.yahoo.com

Monday, January 09, 2006

The Cost of Lovin' It

An interesting bit of data appeared in the Weekend Journal (Wall Street Journal) Singapore, on 6-8 January 2006. It compared the relative costs of a medium McDonald's french fry order in several European and Asian countries (all in local and in US currencies). Prices range from US$0.38 (Philippines) to US$2.21 (Rome, Italy).

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Image: Weekend Journal

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Singapore Tanglin Mall McDonald's

The McChronicles dropped into the convenient Tanglin Mall McDonald's (corner of Holland & Tanglin). We grabbed a McFlurry and checked things out.

Line Wait: 0 seconds
Order Wait: 30 seconds
Service: Quick
Quality: crystalline, odd vanilla flavor

This store has all the usual McDonald's stuff, but it just doesn't feel like a McDonald's. The outer walls are all glass (allowing a view to the street and into the mall). The inner plaster walls are painted a weird yellow. The result is just off a bit from what we expect. It is also a noisy store.

Inside there is a kiosk that allows customers to top off their EZ Link (debit card) and to register for McDonald's Rewards Program (frequent eater).

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.
Images: The McChronicles.

Friday, January 06, 2006

McDonald's Open 24/7 In Singapore

It seems like everywhere The McChronicles turns in Singapore, we experience ads telling us that McDonald's is open 24/7. McDonald's is really making this point quite clear across the island.

Here is a shot of elevator doors in a shopping complex.

This ad also promotes the fact that McDonald's delivers throughout Singapore. The McChronicles has experienced McDonald's deliveries several times. Today we were reminded of one major reason that we dislike (one part of) this practice - the fries (after a cross-town delivery) are simply inedible. We all know that the fries MUST be eaten fresh and hot. Delivered fries are soft, soggy, wet, & cold, and they taste terrible. We like the delivery but NEVER order fries.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Images: The McChronicles.

Singapore Queensway Ridout Japanese Tea Garden McDonald's

Several years ago McDonald's transformed a quaint Japanese tea garden setting on the Queensway into a very unique restaurant location. Yesterday one of The McChronicles' best friends, Ivy, took us there for a bite.

Located behind a winding stream filled with turtles and fish is a canopied veranda that surrounds a McDonald's. It is a bit difficult to see from the road as the building is covered in beautiful greenscape.
This is a relaxing setting in which to enjoy a quick bite to eat - and it is very convenient (right off the highway).

The actual restaurant is quite small and not too appealing (actually one of the most unappealing interiors The McChronicles has ever experienced). Additionally, it took over five minutes for them to deliver our hotly-promoted new Fan-tastic chicken sandwich.

That said, this McDonald's is worth exploring. Thanks Ivy!

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Images: The McChronicles.

McDonald's Promotes FAN-tastic New Rice Sandwiches Heavily In Singapore

The McChronicles spent a long day checking out the various McDonald's-related activities in Singapore recently. After we noticed the strong promotional activities in-store for the new Fan-tastic sandwiches, we returned to our hotel to experience even more promotional efforts.

First, we noticed the overleaf ad on top of The Straits Times. When we pulled that off the paper, there was an ad built right into the front page!

After checking up on the news we flipped on the TV. As we channel-surfed we noticed two different channels carrying ads for the new sandwiches. The ads were so predictable that we were easily able to grab these crude photos.

It sure looks like
McDonald's is trying to make this product a success. By the way - The McChronicles LIKES the Fan-tastic!

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Images: The McChronicles

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Singapore McDonald's Introduces Two FAN-tastic Sandwiches

The Singapore McDonald's are now offering two new sandwiches that are essentially fried chicken or beef within soft, juicy, rice-cake-like buns. Since the buns are soft and a bit sticky, the sandwich is presented in a unique container (see images below) that contains a built-in liner which enables the customer to handle the sandwich without it falling apart, and without getting their hands all messy.

The McChronicles loves the container, and we think that the flavor, richness, and quantity of the actual sandwich is great.

The name, "Fan-tastic", is an excellent play on words - especially for Singaporeans (most of whom command excellent English and Chinese language skills). In Chinese, "fan" means "rice". So, this is an excellent rice sandwich. We agree.

We awoke yesterday to discover that Singapore's
STRAITS TIMES had some serious advertising for these new sandwiches plastered all over the front page. Wow! Then, as we slipped into bed after a long day of McDonald's-hopping, we saw TV ads for the sandwiches on several channels. McDonald's seems to be very serious about this introduction.

Singapore's Electric New Paper has an excellent article on this new product posted on their site.

The McChronicles: A blog about, not affiliated with, McDonald's.

Electric New Paper
#2-#4: McChronicles

#2: In-store promotion
#3: Sandwich as presented
#4: Sandwich after unzipping. Model: McChronicles friend Ivy!