The following text is provided by Class of 2015 student Lance Green:
The McDonald’s french fry box served as the base artifact that led to an in-depth analysis of what it truly is, and what it can be: an improved packaging design, a mass-media campaign, a tool for corporate/consumer food production, and a newly introduced food product for public purchase and consumption. Looking beyond the basic wants and needs of the artifact itself, the project focused on the context and power of design decisions in order to create a more impactful final product. Through ideation, user research, prototyping, testing and refinement, the product was redesigned based on context-specific requirements rather than obvious wants and needs.
The initial concept focused on a modest packaging redesign—creating a “ketchup” holder into the lid of the product.
With greater ambition (and critical of McDonald’s overall lack of sustainability regarding the harvesting and production of consumer goods), a new area of focus became clear: the goal wasn’t to redesign a vessel for carrying fries, but rather to articulate an understanding of the artifact’s systemic impact on the world around us.
A speculative, full-page ad was mocked-up for the New York Times addressing myriad problems—from the irreparable acts of Amazonian rainforest clear cutting for the purposes of soya harvesting and raising of livestock and overgrazing, to health concerns of loyal customers, as well as the environmental impact and atmosphere of each restaurant. Written on behalf of current McDonald’s CEO Donald Thompson, the letter proposed a collaboration with the Green Peace organization and related efforts to define clear regulations and standards regarding the origin of products received from distributors overseas.
Here is the Text:
You have spoken, and we have listened.
Beginning this October, McDonalds will be making changes to our company, as well as all affiliated operations—updates we find to be necessary in the push for a more sustainable world and, ultimately, a healthier you. From the crops we grow to the animals we raise, and ending with the food we provide in our restaurants, we’re keeping your best, and the environment’s best, at heart.
It’s been long overdue.
The changes you will see over the next year are designed with you, our loyal customer, in mind. We feel McDonalds has lost touch with its roots—a rich history dating back over 73 years. We would like nothing more than to continue serving you, your children, and your grandchildren with a healthier, eco-friendly dining experience. From our fully biodegradable, to-go packaging to the introduction of the grass-fed beef we put in our burgers, we’ve sought out to revolutionize the idea of “fast food” dining while keeping true to the name you’ve grown to know and love.
McDonalds has always, and will continue to be, a family-oriented environment.
Just with more emphasis on the family.Your parents ate it, you love it, and your kids will love it too. We pride ourselves in the customers we serve and their continued loyalty to our purpose—we’d like to thank you by providing a dine-in experience similar to that found at the family table. Dine-in meals will no longer be received on plastic trays or in boxed packaging but, starting in October, on our own dinnerware—the way a meal should be served. (Not to worry, toys will still be included in all Happy Meal purchases.)
The future we hold.
For years, rainforests have suffered from irreparable acts of clearcutting for the raising of livestock and soy harvesting—products that, in the past, have made it into our system of operations. For this reason, McDonalds will no longer affiliate with the direct or indirect trade of soya that is a result of the deforestation of Amazonian rainforests for sole purposes of crop harvesting and livestock grazing. Together we’ve teamed with the GreenPeace organization in order to define clear regulations and standards regarding the origin of the products of our distributors. Our natural land is a terrible thing to waste, let alone ruin. Learn more at mcdonalds.com.
It’s never too late to look to the future, so stay tuned, we’d love to see you there.
Continued research led to an evolution of McDonald’s signature fries into a new product: a McDonald’s “take” on the baked potato that offers a more healthful alternative to deep frying. At first, a consumer product version of the potato cutter device needed to achieve the effect was explored. (Gridded blades cut into chosen potatoes when firmly pressed down; arched handles pay homage to the original architecture of restaurants with a wraparound packaging design that features the architectural structure and gridded windows of the iconic building design.)
Ultimately however, it was determined that the product should be introduced as a new offering in their restaurants. Advertisements were created and placed in-context—atop taxicabs and other mass media locations, referring to the introduction of the product’s release as McDonald’s “new golden standard.”