McDonald’s has announced new-look, stripped back packaging: here’s what makes it interesting

We take a look at McDonald’s new packaging approach and why it’s significant

1, The way it was designed

Matt Biespiel, McDonald’s senior director-global brand development told Ad Age that the design process involved bringing one designer from each of McDonald’s roster of seven agencies and consultancies to London for a week. Designers from Leo Burnett in Germany; TBWA in the US DDB Hong Kong, Creata and Landini from Australia and, from the UK, Boxer and Forpeople, were all put together for a mammoth brainstorming session in Shoreditch (natch). Biespiel gave them a brief to produce packaging that would be “true, bold and simple”. Initial designs were researched mid-week and, by the end of the week final designs were handed over to McDonald’s lead packaging consultancy, Boxer, who worked them up into the final packaging.

McDonald's new packaging range. Image courtesy McDonald's
McDonald’s new packaging range. Image courtesy McDonald’s

2, What it says about how McDonald’s is reacting to competition from, cooler, new fast food rivals

The February issue of CR will be a Food and Drink special. In it, Silas Amos from Studio Minerva will look at how the giants of fast food are reacting to the new challenge of the likes of Byron, Shake Shack and Five Guys. Rather than coming out with me-too attempts at ‘authenticity’, he argues, the big boys may be better off just being themselves. The new packaging looks like that’s just what McDonald’s is trying to do. It puts the brand’s strongest assets front and centre and doesn’t try to be anything else. “Our consumers wanted McDonald’s to be McDonald’s,” Biespiel told AdAge. “they really liked the designs that leaned into our core assets and icons”.

Image courtesy McDonald's
Image courtesy McDonald’s

3, The impact of new CEO Steve Easterbrook

Easterbrook comes from a marketing background and has made it a priority to update McDonald’s image. He has talked about the need to take “bold, urgent action to reset the business and prepare the Company for the next chapter of its history”. Compared to its previous packaging, this is a positive first step that follows what, following Turner Duckworth’s landmark work for Coca-Cola, has now become the accepted route for big brand refreshes – strip everything back and let the brand’s key assets speak for themselves.

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