Summary: McDonald's continues its attempt to use hip hop to update their brand, this time via a uniform redesign.
It looks like everybody and their cousins/brothers/mothers are discussing McDonald's plans to hiphopify their uniforms based on a piece at AdAge.com that can be viewed via free registration and a piece from the Associated Press. The big news is that Translation Consulting's Steve Stout is helping McDonald's connect with and consider such design sources as "Tommy Hilfiger . . . Russell Simmons' Phat Farm label, Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, American Eagle and P. Diddy's Sean John label."
Mary Jo Feldstein focused in on what this could mean for Russell Simmons and Phat Farm owner Kellwood and quoted numerous statements from McDonald's spokesperson Bill Whitman who said that "McDonald's probably would choose more than one designer and then allow franchisees and employees to determine the right look for their locations."
Whitman also made the interesting statement that, "The look that we're trying to capture is not something we think belongs only to one particular designer . . . It's a style that does not yet exist." However, Stoute said that designers "will be asked to add some modern touches to the McDonald's uniforms of old, from the days of founder Ray Kroc." All I can visualize at the moment is some kind of old school Star Trek knockoff so I guess they won't be turning to ProHipHop for advice.
Feldstein also talked to "George Pace, managing director of Drive Agency, a marketing and advertising agency in St. Louis" who apparently feels that such a project might "hurt a brand's more upscale image" and that "Phat Farm has made a tremendous brand on edgy, urban design . . . I hope they don't have to make too many compromises." You know, upscale and edgy have never been terms I've associated with Phat Farm's Classic American Flava, whose lack of flavor would suit McDonald's just fine.
Brad Stephens, an "industry analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co. in Memphis" was also concerned for Kellwood and Phat Farm stating:
"What happens if only Phat Farm does it and everyone else says, 'That's not authentic; that's selling out to the man'? . . . I'd be concerned that dressing McDonald's workers doesn't leave it the credibility it was trying to obtain."