I don’t like to ‘tweet’ news headlines….
I do love twitter. I love not only the access it gives me to people who I otherwise wouldn’t be able to connect with, but more so, I love the immediate connection it gives me to news stories as they are happening. That said, I find the tweeting of news stories shortens what are already comically abbreviated news reports of quite possibly, remarkably complex situations. One of our biggest handicaps in current society is the pre-digested news bite. Things change slowly and science builds our knowledge of the world in a gradual and cumulative manner. The odds of a provocative or definitive headline is nearly non-existant, but the shortness of the twitter blast allows very definitive statements that appear to be soundly based on science. The most common version of this is the David Zinczenko style tweet:
A STRONGER HEART: Drink 5+ glasses of water a day to help lower heart disease risk, says Loma Linda U study.
Here is a tweet that shortens a story that talks about a study about heart disease risk and water consumption. How was the study done, what do we know about this… absolutely nothing. The headline is totally misguiding as well… A STRONGER HEART… I am not going to go into detail on the Zinczenko style tweets here (I will do this a little later because it is important), but, instead, I am going to talk about a story about Burger King that I read this a little while ago involving them getting rid of the King as a marketing element.
There is a very important story embedded in this article. It is at the end in fact:
“We’re re-igniting the latent feeling that people have about Burger King,” says Gordon Bowen, chief creative officer at McGarryBowen.
That won’t be easy. The chain’s same-store sales were down 6% in the first quarter, while McDonald’s were up nearly 3%, Technomic says.
When it comes to matters of perceived fast-food quality, Burger King not only lags behind McDonald’s but Subway and even KFC, says Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys, which surveys consumers on preferences.
“There was a time when price value was king,” says Passikoff. “Now, healthy choice and quality drive the category.”
Yep, “Now, healthy choice and quality drive the category.” This is really important-much more important than the ditching of the creepy king- not because it is a description of the current consumer desire (although that too is important), but what is more important is to realize that the companies that have followed those principles and gotten out in front of the consumer desire for this are the ones seeing significant profit. The companies that were quick to respond to the clear desire for healthy choice are the ones that made money.
So, while many of the fast food chains have added triple burgers and massive 2000 calorie meals, those that embraced healthy choices responded to consumer demand and made money. While many bloggers and fitness experts have long begged fast food restaurants to include healthy choices on their menu, we keep hearing the response that these people are getting in the way of the fast food companies, getting in the way of choice, getting in the way of business, but the truth is quite different. People as ridiculous as Rush Limbaugh (oh, who am I kidding, there aren’t people as ridiculous as Rush Limbaugh, he is out there on his own) refer to those who request the change as food Nazi’s. But this really is part of a black and white, us and them, scapegoat world that many people try to create. One where Nanny State Politics and Food Nazis are battling it out with evil corporations preying on our addictions. The reality is actually nothing like this.
Corporations are just money driven engines staffed by very smart people. They find what works and stick with it. Large corporations tend to continue in one direction and fight change (Mcdonalds has been an exception to this rule, always adding new menu items and testing their products in the market, with some funny results). Fast food corporations, like many corporations, are slow to understand market changes, as is clearly shown in this article above. It costs a lot of money to make change, and it can cost a corporation its business to either guess the wrong future or dilute their corporate identity by investing in several futures. These aren’t trivial decisions and they aren’t made out of malice.
When I speak of recommendations for fast food companies I am only suggesting things that will be healthy choices, and as such will make it infinitely more likely that I will enjoy eating in their establishments and proud to take my kids. I eat at McDonald’s and Burger King and I love them both for their different tastes, but unfortunately because their meals are generally so unhealthy, I don’t eat their very often at all anymore. For me to eat a meal under 500 calories I can’t eat many of the foods I enjoy and I have to bastardize their menu and make enough changes that I begin to feel like that person who takes 15 minutes to order their coffee at Starbucks… I care about my weight and I cannot afford to eat fast food as much as I would like. It is sad, but I like the way I look in a mirror now and giving that up isn’t worth it. I do eat chicken skewers at Vietnamese restaurants and stir fried beef and veggies at japanese fast food outlets. These are remarkably healthy and tasty food choices that are available at most food fairs. I can rock a food fair…
I would very much enjoy it if I wasn’t as limited in my healthy fast food choices and it is because of this that I offer my advice to these chains. I hope they take my help with the positive intent that it is given. I look forward to seeing how Burger King moves forward with healthier choices. I truly hope it is a case of actual healthy choices and not just healthy branding, the strategy used by the morally bankrupt Kellogg’s and General Mills companies.