Paper-process engineering

McDonalds Restaurants brings out distinct feelings in people: from little kids who love the whole experience of unpacking a happy meal for the toy to adults disgusted by everything that the company stands for. So before I go any further I would like you to suspend your emotional views on McDonalds, at least until I’ve finished my Big Mac value meal with onion rings and a doughnut the end of the post.

Benjy’s have closed down their branch just around the corner from my office so off I went to McDonalds to secure my caffiene fix. When I received the cup I noticed some design innovations to get you out of the queue faster. Whilst McDonalds offer a loyalty card scheme for builders and the homeless who purchase their coffee at this branch on a regular basis they had managed to incorporate a peelable stamp and detachable loyalty card right into the cup.

McDonalds coffee cup and loyalty card

On removing the card, I found that the cup was a dual-card walled affair with corregated card inside to act as an insulator.

By clever design, McDonalds had managed to put the fast back into fast food. No more fumbling around for the cardboard sleeve to stop the customer from burning their fingers on a piping hot coffee cup and loyalty card delays whilst the barista McJob employee hunted for the rubber stamp and pad to mark your card. No giving free cups of coffee to their friends with a slip of the stamp, instead one cup = one stamp.

My friend Stephen the other evening said that design should reflect what the organisation knows it is in its heart externally and this bit of packaging design fitted McDonalds to a tee, a prime example of its ‘Speedee Service System’. McDonalds isn’t about moral judgements, it isn’t about nutrition and health, it isn’t about haute cuisine, its not about life-long careers; its a fast-food machine with the ultimate goal of providing value for its shareholders. The cup design captures the mechanistic, process-driven non-soul of McDonalds and reflects it in an honest way: ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ but they should bring back the old drip-coffee machines because contents left a lot to be desired for my caffiene-crazed taste buds.