All Beef and No Brand: McDonald's Goes Faceless to Sell Burgers in Japan

Earlier this month, McDonald's rolled out its famous Quarter Pounder in Japan -- but to regular passersby, there was no apparent connection to the world's largest fast food chain. Two of the chain's stores in Tokyo have been remodeled to temporarily strip away any branding -- no arches, no clown, no name.

Earlier this month, McDonald's rolled out its famous quarter pounder in Japan – but to regular passersby, there was no apparent connection between the smell of burgers and the world's largest fast food chain.

Two of the chain's stores in Tokyo have been remodeled to temporarily strip away any branding – no golden arches, no signature clown, and not even the fast food giant's name. Instead, the décor is minimalist in a way that's in line with Japanese culture. The only two colors to be seen are red and black: sleek black seating, a red and black façade, and a menu that's all in red and black. The temporary stores serve just two burgers - the Quarter Pounder with cheese and the Double Quarter Pounder with cheese - both also packaged in red and black.

McDonald's aim: to offer consumers a blind taste test. "We want consumers to discover great taste and not care about who produced it. Those who think of McDonald's as fast food can just focus on taste and find a premium burger, without prejudice or preconception," said a spokesperson to Creativity Magazine.

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3 Comments

  • sloane eelo

    This is so weird, especially since I was just reading about McDonald's on Dr. Tantillo's marketing blog, where he praises McD for being so flexible and adapting to demand but prefaced this with: "The big things about McDonald’s cosmetic image (i.e., colors, designs, clown mascot) have never essentially changed. Neither has the basic serving and restaurant setup."
    Guess they are even more flexible though... Tantillo's full post

    Even though this is supposed to just be temporary/buzz marketing, I wonder if cultivating this sort of aesthetic wouldn't make sense for them--a move to diversify their holdings (they own a significant portion of Chipotle, or did last I knew) and expand/diversify their customer base (Ex. their 'unsnobby coffee' campaign. Tantillo did a post on
    Starbucks/Dunkin' Donuts mentioning McDonald's coffee, too.

    The food definitely isn’t just selling for its own sake, though. I was surprised by the rhetorical question at the end of the article, because as you say in the introduction…the Quarter Pounder IS a McDonald’s brand.

  • Bill Barlett

    If McDonalds is conducting a blind taste test "without predjudice or preconception" then why is their spokesperson preempting the Japanese public with statements such as "discover great taste" and "find a premium burger". The world is flat and the Japanese have already read this article and know who is pandering to them with the use of red and black motif. Will McDonalds ever tell the world if the Japanese public finds them "faceless and tasteless" - I hardly think so.

  • Tiffani Bell

    Interesting experiment, but to me that's all idle marketing chatter from McDonald's. Perhaps I'm missing something, but how is it really a "blind taste test" when a previous restaurant was simply remodeled to *not* look like a McDonald's and the products still have the same name? Not entirely sure they can succeed based on trying to be the Muji of hamburgers over there. lol