Right now here in the UK, McDonalds are churning out the usual factual commercials on how all of their burgers have British and Irish beef, how they embrace fresh ingredients, and about their new idea for putting books in Happy Meals (which on paper sounds great, but any kid would rather play with a toy). Their current ad campaign, though, focuses on how the assorted variety of customers have their “best times” at one of their restaurants (from celebrating a soccer match to finding your future wife), with an appalling piano cover of The Jam’s “That’s Entertainment” playing in the background.
On the other hand, like some restaurant chains, they like to ignore the glaring rumours about how they treat their employees. Here in the UK, McDonalds employees are often on what’s called ‘zero-hour contracts’. In them, the employer (McDonalds) isn’t obliged to give out any minimum working hours, while the employee (the poor hapless kid with spots occasionally getting your order wrong) isn’t obliged to accept any work offered. Sounds great, right?……but the employee must also sign an agreement that they must be available for work when and where-ever, and there’s still no guarantee they’ll get the number of hours they signed up for, meaning it could be anywhere between 1 to 48 hours a week.
With this, as well as the question behind whether their food is genuinely healthy (eg. due to the high amount of fat, grease and additives, a Big Mac can take up to 3 days to properly digest), McDonalds have been desperate to win peoples’ hearts for like forever. Everywhere in the world.
And as in Japan, where at least one McDonalds (or McDonalds equivalent) is found on every block, this generation’s kids are happy that they won’t always have to subject themselves to traditional Japanese cuisine and can splash out on Western food, despite the fact that westerners themselves usually frown on their food.
This most recent commercial of theirs, designed to recruit rather than advertise the food, stands out for many reasons.
It makes working at one of their restaurants actually attractive and moe, with the high-school girl looking up to her senpai when she trips up and gets embarrassed when dumb schoolboys ask for her to smile on camera (the senpai’s leaving party scene is especially touching). A commercial like this is something they need right now as, in the last couple of years, McDonalds Japan have had trouble keeping their staff due to company financial issues. Considering that long-term employees there have an insane wage (as much as 3,000 yen/about $25 an hour), this may be understandable.
It strays away from the more extreme commercials they produced…from dancing employees with no regards to health and safety in the workplace, to sugar-high young children going crazy over the next Happy Meal toy, from the 1,000 yen Extreme Burgers to the infamous nightmare-inducing Ronald McDonald ones.
It shows a more human side to working there, as opposed to other recruitment and orientation videos other countries make, such as the US one below, that only go on about how big they are. It reflects the great work ethic that makes McDonalds Japan compare greatly to…say…McDonalds USA, where it’s obvious that the staff frankly don’t give a damn.
…and keeping on the topic of work ethic, with the senpai/kohai theme running, it shows that not only can employees stay for the long-term, but they can happily recruit hands-on, like their senpais did to them…as opposed to finding a flimsy little leaflet next to the counter when you order your next meal.
Sure enough, McDonalds Japan has had a bit of a history on going extreme; not just on its ad campaigns but on their menu choices too. They were one of the first to introduce table service, to suggest its customer dispose of their waste responsibly, and, of course, their love of adding chocolate to a lot of their stuff.
Does this sound like I’m bigging the chain up? Who is to say that I’d ever be happy going to one of their restaurants when I get the chance to visit Japan? Would I actually see these high-school kids fumbling with orders and letting their senpais pick up the pieces? Or would I see the dancing employees?
Only one way to find out.