Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Meanwhile, in McDonald's outer boroughs...

Some of the most interesting news about McDonald’s these days is coming from abroad, where the chain seems more willing to take a risk. Consider the reports that surfaced just in the last two days:

In Japan, notes a website where visitors can post science and technology news, Big Mac is trying high-tech food wrappers. Each is embossed with a barcode-like pattern that the camera in a patron’s cell phone can decode into a URL. A web-enabled phone automatically connects to the website, where nutritional information about the item in the wrapper is displayed. From the user’s standpoint, you hold your phone to the wrapper, and calorie and fat info is instantly depicted on the handset’s display window.

Interestingly, said one reader who commented on the posting, the technology has been around for a long time—six months. Others indicated that such a system could work in Japan because everyone there has web-enabled picture phones. In comparison, Americans are still turning a crank on a wall unit and asking Clara the Operator to connect them.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s found itself in a pickle in Europe because of a new program it’s trying there. Employers are provided with a McPassport, which allows them to work in any McD’s unit within the European Union if a job is available, a set-up similar to one used by T.G.I. Friday’s in the States. McDonald’s said it regarded the McPassport as a perk, a benefit that gives its employees greater mobility. If a college-aged crewmember was leaving his or her job to travel, the chain might still pick up an hour or two a week from that individual during the roadtrip, or after they’ve relocated elsewhere for school.

It sounded like a positive gesture. Yet critics all but hanged Ronald. They alleged that McPassport is just a diabolical ruse to lure lower-paid workers from Eastern Europe into higher-wage jobs in the western part of the ECM. They portrayed the McPassport as a chit entitling the bearer to one (1) job.

It’s unclear—to me at least—why McDonald’s couldn’t attain the same end merely by offering jobs to the easterners. Why is a McPassport needed to hire them? Of course, I never understood Jerry Lewis’ popularity among the French, either.

Finally, news reports from Ireland say McD’s is making a bold move there to address health concerns. The stories say McDonald’s Restaurants of Ireland have offered to halve the salt content of a French fries serving within a matter of weeks. The sodium in McNuggets has already been cut by 30 percent, and the McChicken Sandwich is 20 percent less salty than it was, according to the reports.

And what news did the chain disseminate here in the U.S. during the same timeframe? Boy, those $1.29 Snack Wraps are sure selling well.

No comments:

Post a Comment