Attracting the Customers
The logo for McDonald’s is the golden arches of the letter M on a red background.
The M stands for McDonald’s, but the rounded m represents mummy’s mammaries, acccording the design consultant and psychologist Louis Cheskin. In the 1960's McDonald's was prepared to abandon this logo, but Cheskin successfully urged the company to maintain this branding with its Freudian symbolism of a pair of nourishing breasts.
This may seem funny, but it is no laughing matter to the industrial psychologists and marketing consultants who are paid millions to find new ways to seduce us into buying by manipulating our unconscious desires.
The work of “hidden persuaders” in the psychology of marketing has been going on since the 1920s. Nowadays, there are companies who even hypnotise focus groups of consumers to reach their innermost associations.
Market research has found that children can recognize a brand logo before they can recognise their own name.
One way McDonald’s ensured the visiblity of its brand, and in the process revolutionized fast food, was by making its restaurants easily accessible on the US highway system.
Over half the population of the USA live within 3 minutes drive of a McDonald’s, and Ray Kroc, the founder of the restaurant chain, made sure they did so. He used the company plane in the 1960s to spot from the air the best locations and road junctions for new restaurant branches.
Church steeples were often his guide, because Kroc wanted to attract church-going families to his temples of efficiency and nourishment, which always had clean toilets.
In fact, in the USA more people now eat in McDonald’s than go to church or synagogue. Surveys have shown that the golden arches are better known than the Christian cross.
“Give Mom a night off” was an early advertising slogan, so the meal out meant no cooking, serving and washing-up for her.
Outside the USA, McDonald’s and other American fast food restaurants offer a bite of the American Dream.
But the appeal now of McDonald’s and many other fast food outlets in the USA and elsewhere is aimed deliberately at children.
There is a playground, in bright primary colours. There is sweet, salty, fatty food you eat with your fingers. There is a clown called Ronald McDonald to greet you, and there’s the prospect of free film and TV tie-in toys with the “Happy Meal”.
Psychologists confirm a theory that Ray Kroc and Walt Disney traded upon, that “brand loyalty” can be established by the age of two.
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