Covid-19 has hurt the happy meal restaurant. About 25% of McDonald’s restaurants are closed globally, including all of the 1,270 in the UK.
Despite the sales impact the McDonald’s brand looks set to emerge stronger post-pandemic. In recent weeks the global attachment to the brand born in 1940 has become very visible. McDonalds clearly has some committed fans.
If you were looking for an indication of brand power, I’m not sure there is a better benchmark than customers recreating your packaging to retain some of the experience they are missing. Parents have, and the McDonald’s website now has a template for the distinctive Happy Meal box. It has also teamed up with the UK Autistic Society to provide packaging to more than 450 families.
In France, Switzerland, New Zealand (and no doubt elsewhere) the reopening of McDonald’s Drive-thrus has been met by cars queuing from the early hours in anticipation of the return of at least some of their fast food favourites. It is another telling and visible indicator of brand power.
This week McDonald’s announced they will trial the reopening of UK restaurants behind closed doors in preparation for a more socially distanced and safe return.
Future scenes of cars and customers in long queues outside reopened McDonald’s may raise questions on the nation’s dietary habits. But more importantly it will be a bright sign of a return to the normality and familiarity we have missed and I’d love that.