Meeting Great Expectations: McDonald’s ‘Purposeful’ Plan for Change

Red Consultancy and Teneo

Every major business in the world entered 2021 facing a new reality of heightened expectations. Beyond growth, a new broader agenda across climate change, diversity and inclusion and workforce engagement emerged.

These new urgent expectations were felt by banks, by energy companies and by retailers and keenly by the world’s biggest restaurant chain, McDonald’s. A business with hundreds of millions of passionate brand fans but one viewed sceptically by large swathes of broader public opinion when it comes to sustainability.

McDonald’s response was in the urgent spirit of the times.

Its UK and Ireland Plan For Change drove immediate actions and set out a bold manifesto. Change across its menu, across its restaurant, change in every community and above all aiming for net zero emissions across its entire business and value chain by 2040 – a pledge publicly underlined by its global CEO at COP26 in Glasgow.

McDonald’s ended 2021 with customers (and stakeholders) tasting change in the form of its first vegan burger, seeing change in the shape of the UK’s first net zero carbon restaurant and supporting change as the brand became a leading partner to BBC Children in Need.

Plan for Change is corporate purpose writ-large by a business that uses its scale for good. Its consumer rallying cry of ‘Change a Little, Change a Lot’ channelled the democratic can-do spirit for which the brand is rightly famed. And made clear to customers, citizens and stakeholders alike that McDonald’s would rise to meet society’s new expectations.

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