McDonald's Packaging Gets a Playful, Modern Makeover

Passionate Purple, Optimistic Orange and Magical Magenta Among the Brand's New Hues

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Steve Easterbrook is pushing McDonald's to be a modern, progressive burger company. Now the CEO has the packaging to match.

McDonald's is overhauling its bags and cups with bright lettering and an updated take on its iconic Golden Arches. It is the chain's first global packaging overhaul in three years and perhaps the first to come with a long, international list of people to thank.

Matt Biespiel, McDonald's senior director-global brand development, gives credit for what he calls the new "DynamicDesign" to a team that included designers from seven agencies. That's because nearly a year ago McDonald's plucked one designer from each of its lead agency partners, sent them to London's Shoreditch neighborhood, and had them brainstorm for a week.

The brief for the meeting, Mr. Biespiel said, essentially was to come up with packaging designs that would be true, bold and simple and work with McDonald's updated designs in its restaurants and other areas such as its digital push.

The team assembled in London in early 2015 included designers from Leo Burnett Germany; TBWA U.S.; DDB Hong Kong; Creata Australia; Boxer UK; Landini Australia and Forpeople UK.

The new look is starting to pop up in the U.S. before heading around the globe. The designs feature colors that almost sound like the names of new McDonald's smoothies or fancy burgers: Passionate Purple, Optimistic Orange, Ocean Fresh Blue, Zesty Lime and Magical Magenta. Of course, McDonald's signature red and yellow also appear.

The quantitative and qualitative feedback from consumers showed "how much our consumers wanted McDonald's to be McDonald's," Mr. Biespiel said. Some attempts that really pushed the design envelope perhaps pushed the brand further than customers were comfortable with. Also, "they really liked the designs that leaned into our core assets and icons," he said. That's one of the reasons the company decided "to make the Golden Arches so dynamic."

For example, the front of one bag features the golden arches, which stretch to the adjoining side panel. The other large side of the bag might include the name of a top-seller such as Big Mac, Chicken McNuggets, Egg McMuffin or French Fries, in a bright hue.

Read the full story on McDonald's new packaging on and take a look back at McDonald's classic containers here.

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Jan 07, 2016
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