McDonald’s turns green in Germany

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Out with the ketchup-red. By 2010, all new McDonald’s restaurants in Germany will have its “golden arches” emblazoned on a hunter green background instead.

The reason? McDonald’s Germany wants to reposition the restaurant as a bastion of environmental friendliness, Der Spiegel reported.

“Simplicity and a focus on the essentials is the new design philosophy,” Holger Beeck, deputy head of McDonald’s in Germany, was quoted in the report.  All 40 new restaurants set to open in 2010 will adhere to the new design sensibilities. In addition, the façade of the new restaurants will include natural stone and wood. By the end of the year, more than 100 McDonald’s restaurants will be outfitted with the new design style.

“With the new appearance, we want to clarify our responsibility and relationship with natural resources,” Beeck said.

It’s a big move for one of the world’s most recognizable logo. So much so that some in the Twitter community thought it was a joke. A tweet from Twittizen23 wrote: “Erst greenwashing, jetzt greenlabeling?” Signs of green have already started appearing at its 1.4 million euro (US$2.1 million) flagship store at the Munich airport that recently opened. Some of their commercials have already started to spot the green logo too.

McDonald’s is “trying hard to distance itself from the competition (think Burger King) based on the theme of sustainability, and it fits with the recent developments in the market,” a German marketing blog wrote. Most Germans still associate McDonald’s with obesity and litter, according to Der Spiegel. A greener color can probably help change its image, the article suggested.

mcdonalds-koelnDesign-conscious Germans agree, with some calling it a “bold” move. Others begged to differ. One commentator on a German  design blog said it was a bad call and might cause the brand to lose its unique identity it’s built up over the years. Another said if the yellow and red was a reflection of its food (think fries, buns and ketchup), then the deep green in its logo made it look like it makes bad salads.

“Im Photo mit Kai erinnert mich das Gruen ein bisschen an das Gruen was sie in FIlmen wie Platoon benuetzen oder an schlecht gewordenem Salat… aber irgendwie nicht an was gesundem, ” commented Sascha.

The move didn’t quite resonate with an environmentally-conscious German blogger though. Suggesting that McDonald’s was being hypocritical about going “green”, he said the company should have done more to reduce its product packaging. “When I was with my wife and my 2 sons to eat there, this produces more packaging waste as regulated 3 days eating at home,” he wrote in German.

Not everyone agrees. Environmental campaigners Greenpeace, which has heavily criticized McDonald’s (and practically everyone else) for its food processing methods, lauded the logo change. McDonald’s has to be given some credit for trying to be more environmentally friendly, though much of what it has done to go green has taken place in the US. Last year, they opened their first “green restaurant” (in Chicago) for a new pilot program on green building and received the Gold LEED rating. In one location in North Carolina (opened last month), it has actually installed a charging station for electric vehicles.

This is not the first time McDonald’s in Germany has gone out of the way to align itself environmentally with folks of Germany, one of the world’s greenest countries and McDonald’s third largest market, behind the US and Japan. In March last year, the company went to the extent of redesigning the lids of its McFlurry ice cream lids to save German hedgehogs.

Do you think going the green way will cause McDonald’s competitors to turn green with envy? Or is going eco-friendly a moral obligation it has to fulfill? And if so, is the fast food chain doing enough?

2 thoughts on “McDonald’s turns green in Germany

  1. Actually I think you will find that McDonald’s in the UK started ‘turning green’ almost a year ago, way before Germany. Germany may have a few more restaurants than the UK – having a larger population – but the UK is certainly just as big a market than Germany. McDonald’s want to try and give a healthier look to their restaurants and to bring a more comforting atmosphere to the high street and restaurants with soft chairs and stylish furniture. But this is not a German concept, (as the German McDonald’s spokesperson also said) it’s a Europe-wide change which started in the UK and France.

  2. McDonald’s has realized that a paradigm shift is in progress; one in which people are starting to show a greater concern for the environment (and therefore so properly labeled as the “Green Movement”). The ideals of many countries, with the most leading of them localized in Europe, are changing to reflect this general trend in ideology, and is just so happens that McDonald’s has not only realized they will diminish if they do not conform but also they are attempting to use this knowledge as a marketing ploy. Although a change of image could not hurt, it is the food processing and cooking methods that seem to have a lot of people distraught and opt for a healthier meal. With their third biggest market in one of the “greenest” nations, Germany, and their first in America, who has been slower to adapt to this new dogma but is making substantial progress, it is no wonder why they are trying to appeal to these ever-growing “greener” societies, but they are going to have to change more than just their looks to swing a majority of the greener crowd.

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