Keeping a simplified menu is going to be something of a tug of war between McDonald's Owner/Operators and McDonald's management. There will be three forces pressuring management to slowly return to a more complicated menu and operation.
1) Investors and analysts - If management doesn't produce a stream of new products, they will be accused of not having an "Innovation pipeline". If the company ever returns to having in-person "analysts' days" the guests will expect to be fed exciting new products from that pipeline.
Investors will give a simplified menu lip service, but they don't understand what it means and will reflexively push for menu creep.
2) Industry media - Reporters need content and clicks so they will write about any new product news they can find. They will constantly bug corporate about new products. I'm amazed how much press Shamrock Shakes are getting. Can a 40-year-old product be new product news?
But the Chicago office will contribute to this pressure from the media by cranking out press releases about new products, especially when they need positive press.
3) Social media - "Listening to our customers" is an oft-used phrase. Unfortunately, sometimes that means a marketing person spending an hour on Twitter and Tick Tock. A few comments from a few people (McDonald's customers or not McDonald's customers) and "the Internet is on fire" with people demanding fake meat or ADB.
Exactly how this tug of war takes place will depend on same-store sales. If sales stay positive in the USA there will only be muted cries for new products. If sales go soft or McDonald's USA falls behind the competition the outside pressure on management will be substantial. And, with so little real restaurant experience in Chicago, it's likely management will easily yield to the pressure.
Only Owner/Operators can prevent menu creep.
As long as the inept OPNAD keeps swallowing every discount, give away, and plain bad ideas, the lily livered OPNAD reps will continue to cave to their corporate masters. GROW A SPINE! Start with ending dollar drinks, and refusing to advertise delivery on OPNAD due to Corps greed of charging R&S fees on delivery fees.
OPNAD is as spineless as the feckless NFLA.
McDonald's Owner/Operators should look at the NFLA and OPNAD as two completely different entities.
A franchise company will always have a politically correct, corporate-approved advisory panel so they can tell the world that they are aligned with their franchisees. If the NFLA were to become effective tomorrow the corporate pukes would form another group they could control.
But OPNAD is a completely different animal. There doesn't have to be an OPNAD. If you were in a club that wasn't serving a constructive purpose you'd stop attending meetings and stop paying dues.
Here's what the McDonald's corporate website says, "To maintain and take advantage of our leadership position, each restaurant is required to spend a minimum of 4% of gross sales annually for advertising and promoting the business. Owner/Operators work with local agencies to place advertisements and, in some cases, produce their own creative material. In addition, through a VOLUNTARY (caps mine) U.S. cooperative of McDonald's Owner/Operators known as the Operator's National Advertising (OPNAD) Fund, the Company and its Owner/Operators combine to purchase national television advertising."
OPNAD was formed in 1967 during the Vietnam War. Many Americans still had black & white TVs. Most paying members of OPNAD had not yet been born. Yet, with all of the changes the McDonald's system has seen, OPNAD remains unchanged and largely unexamined.
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