Strategy

Fast food targets women

Used to selling men on mega, marketers profit in selling women on mini.

Men’s fast-food ads sell “bigger,” “thicker” and “more.” But McDonald’s is counting on a stereotypically female response to the sales pitch for its new $1.99 McMini chicken sandwich.

The ad features a woman dressed in shorts confidently strolling by a window display of miniskirts, a guy with a ukulele and a some folks in a tiny car to get to her McMini. “The commercial plays on women’s body-image concerns,” says Matthew Johnson of the Media Awareness Network. “They want women to know that if the kids want McDonald’s, there’s something on the menu they don’t have to feel bad about.” He adds that this is in line with a broader marketing strategy for all sorts of sin foods, where consumers are encouraged to opt for smaller portions rather than avoid the product entirely. And so we have mini sodas, mini chip bags, extra-thin chocolate bars – all marketed predominantly at women.

This strategy works for McDonald’s in two ways. Women generally control family food spending. And if Mickey Dee’s new offering can convince Mom to make the trip, it will reinforce the brand with her children at the same time. Just don’t tell her that while the pesto grilled McMini is about half the serving size of the Classic Crispy Chicken, it actually has well over half the fat and calories.