"Clowns have always creeped me out, but none more so than Ronald McDonald". Photo: Getty
Just when McDonald's seems to be losing its grip on the Australian market, it’s found another way to inveigle itself back into our lives.
As Fairfax Media reported on Sunday, the fast food monolith is trialling a convenient home “McDelivery” service in Sydney’s North Parramatta store.
Launched “quietly” on 27 November, the well-targeted “family value” packs, which contain all the usual Macca’s suspects, including Mcburgers, soft drinks, chicken nuggets and fries, are offered for delivery every day between 5pm and 9pm.
Side salads are also a menu option, but that’s as far as the health food concession goes, with healthier alternatives not on offer.
It’s early days yet, but a McDonald’s spokeswoman told Fairfax Media that the trial, which includes a delivery fee $4.95 and a $25 minimum order, had so far been “well received”.
While the global chain has long offered a delivery service in parts of Malaysia, South Korea and India, this is a first for Australia.
Which is curious in itself, but since Macca’s loves nothing if not a bit of self-promotion, especially when it comes to targeting families and kids (don’t just take my word for it, this was the finding of the 2010 Flinders University study, “Targeting Children with Integrated Marketing Communications”), we need to ask ourselves a few serious questions, most notably “Why North Parramatta?”, and “Why so little fanfare?”
It you want to take the company at its word then North Parramatta was chosen because its “population, density and accessibility made it the perfect location to trial the service in Australia”.
Let me guess? It had nothing to do with the fact that the western Sydney area, 24km from Sydney’s CBD, was identified as “the second highest overweight suburb, just behind south western Sydney”, as a National Health Performance Agency report recently found.
Yes, it seems we might just have identified why Macca’s didn’t throw more of its sizable international $2 billion advertising budget behind the initiative. It doesn’t look good, does it? A heart attack in a box and only a phone call away.
But don’t come down be too hard on Macca’s. After all, they’re just trying to make a living, even if they are shortening the lives of others in the process (McDonalds fast food: toxic ingredients include putty and cosmetic petrochemicals - Atlanta wellness | Examiner.com).
As I wrote for Daily Life earlier this year, McDonald’s Australian arm has had a pretty ordinary year, with its international chief executive and president Don Thompson telling a packed boardroom that the company’s revenue has been severely dented thanks to a significant downturn in our spending.
But Macca’s isn’t holding that against us. After all, it understands us better than we know ourselves (thanks to a dedicated “research” department). Despite Jamie Oliver trying his darnest to convince us that all it takes is 15 minutes whip up a meal; Macca’s knows that we know it takes only 15 seconds to reach for the mobile phone and dial for a delivery.
In short: it’s doing all this for us.
And if things go well in North Parramatta, as it seems to be, then who knows where the delivery service might pop up next?
Perhaps, it might turn up in the inner-city Melbourne suburb of Richmond, which currently boasts three Macca’s inside a 3.8 km radius, and, thanks to a recent and steady proliferation of apartment dwellers and families, fits neatly the Macca’s “population, density and accessibility” brief.
Richmond is also the suburb where I live.
If it did start up here, I’d have to ask myself: Do I have it in me to resist? At our house, when the witching hour strikes, generally all bets are off. Having a couple of “family value meals” delivered straight to our door could be a real alternative to pizza night. And with all the benefits of not having to wash up.
I mean, show me a parent who doesn’t want to put a smile on their kids’ faces at dinner, or, at least, distract them from killing each other?
But here’s the thing. Thanks a vigorous and dedicated anti-fast-food campaign run by my partner and I over the years, resistance rules in our house. Yes, folks, Our Kids Hate Macca’s.
I know, we’re lucky, but what of the families in these “high density areas” now firmly in Macca’s sights? Can we count on the parents and kids resisting the push, too? I hope so —because things are pretty crook when you look to a clown in big, red shoes to be your white knight.