Roy Bergold: Tales from McDonald’s | February 2011 | By Roy T. Bergold Jr.

Get Ready, It’s Roy’s World

Some fictional and nonfictional ideas about what might be in store for the quick-service industry this year.

Roy Bergold shares the 2011 business shakeups he wants and expects to see.
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It’s the New Year, and I would like to expound on some ideas I have for 2011, as well as look at some of the areas that may—or definitely will—affect the way we do business in the coming year. Welcome to Roy’s World.

First up, some ideas on how I think things should go. The first thing we are going to do in Roy’s World is reorganize government to make it easier for the quick-serve business to prosper. Poof! We are going to have government run as McDonald’s did when I joined. Since there is already a president for the country, a governor for your state, and a mayor for your town, we will allow them to stay as heads of their respective governments.  

But McDonald’s had a president, and then a vice president in charge of each major area of the business, like operations, marketing, real estate, construction, and so on. Each one of them ran his business and made the decisions. That made it simple and easy. How about our government does the same? That’s it. Everybody else in government goes home. Once a week there is an e-mail to ask the people their opinion of what needs to be voted on, and the vice presidents can use this vote to influence their decisions, like whether we should be at war, whether we should ratify the Russian treaty, or what to do about the deficit. But the vice president makes the decision and we move on. If he makes enough bad ones, he’s fired.

Secondly, we will go to a very simple taxing system. The federal tax return is one line item. It’s how much you made, and then take X percent and send it in four equal installments. And when you buy something, Y percent is sent to the local presidents for use in the state and town. No other taxes allowed. So you pay income and spending taxes; that’s it. These two taxes run everything, including the schools, which are the lion’s share of local spending.

Here’s a few other considerations. The laws we operate under are Common Sense and the Golden Rule. Everyone is responsible for what he does and there is no such thing as a lawsuit. Also, each person is allowed 550 square feet of living space. Two people can have an 1,100-square-foot house. But no more 20,000-square-foot monsters.

Now, for business, everything is a free market. Value is the key word—you get what you pay for. The market determines the price. If I really, really want it, I will pay for it. Competition will neutralize any effect of gouging. I can sell anything I want; nobody can tell me I can’t sell something if the people want it. Remember, people are responsible for their actions and controlling their desires. The government and the businessmen aren’t. And since the people can vote their requests in every week via e-mail, their wishes are certainly heard, or there is a vice president out of a job.  

OK, enough fantasy. Here are the things that might actually happen this year. You know, the things our industry needs to be very aware of so we can move quickly to our advantage.

Everyone will have cell phones and, conversely, no more landlines. Landlines are an unnecessary expense. We will run a promotion to bring us your last landline bill, and you get a free Big Mac.

Music is dying. Costs are through the roof and it is too easy to download instead of buying the CD. We will partner with the music industry to have live concert tours for the benefit of our restaurants and control the cost of the tickets by selling them in the stores, and give part of the profit to charities. It’s a win-win. The fan can afford to see his favorite stars, eat his favorite food, and support his favorite charity, and the band can sell the CD at the concert for a heck of a price.  

“There isn’t any privacy. We can find out anything about our customers and build marketing plans to exploit this knowledge.”

We will use social media to promote our business. I’ve written about this before. Television is a thing of the past as long as the shows are as bad as they are and people don’t want to see the commercials again. People used to contact McDonald’s to buy copies of the commercials so they could see them whenever they wanted. We can certainly be as creative as we were in the ’70s and make this happen again. And forget newspapers. The key word is new. No one wants to read the “olds,” they want to read the news. The only way to get it is on the Internet, where new ways of advertising are needed. Where are those creative people when you need them?

Also, forget direct mail. The post office is an albatross. Why not three-day-a-week deliveries? I don’t need to see a bunch of mail more than three times a week. Anything important comes on my e-mail anyway.   

And lastly, privacy. There isn’t any. We can find out anything about our customers and build marketing plans to exploit this knowledge. As soon as someone goes on the Internet, we know everything about them—their spending patterns, their favorite things, when they are available to spend and how much. We not only become part of their daily lives, but we help direct how they will think about the quick-serve business.

These are supposed to be words used to foster complex thinking. Now texting has turned human beings into all thumbs and no brains. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, says communication today must be seamless, informal, immediate, personal, minimal, and short. How do we use this to our advantage?

Well, we have a lot to do in the coming months. But, with the objective of simplicity for our businesses, there will be a huge labor pool available for us as just a few of those unnecessary politicians come looking for jobs and value in food. We are poised to deliver.

Happy Trails and Peace.

Roy Bergold

Roy started his career at the Leo Burnett Company in 1967. Two years later he decided to sell hamburgers instead, and began his adventure at McDonald’s. Starting as an assistant advertising manager, he became manager, national advertising manager, director of advertising and promotion, assistant vice president of advertising and promotion, and vice president of advertising.

Roy retired from McDonald’s in 2001 as Chief Creative Officer. Along the way, he was responsible for U.S., as well as all advertising worldwide. While under his care, McDonald’s earned every creative award possible, including Cannes, Clios, and the Four A’s best five year campaign. Roy lives happily in Payson, Arizona, with his wife, dogs, and horses.