McDonald’s strikes deal with Weight Watchers

Serving 46 million customers every day, McDonald’s recently paired up with one of the world’s leading weight loss programs, Weight Watchers. The world’s leading fast-food chain and Weight Watchers will be promoting menu items, such as fish sandwiches and Chicken McNuggets. In return, McDonald’s will promote the Weight Watchers logo on their menu boards.
McDonald's Chicken McNuggets

(Chris Hondros, Getty Images)

Fact:  A box of six Chicken McNuggets has 280 calories, but adding a large order of fries leaves the calorie count at 500.

The new team is going to start promoting in New Zealand, since McDonald’s is one of their favorite places to eat.

Weight Watchers is all about balanced diets and portion control, however can you imagine telling a morbidly obese person that they can only have six McDonald’s chicken nuggets. Once I get a taste of those nuggets I am even more hungry that before. It is going to be such a tease to them. Also, what about the fries? So they can have McDonald’s chicken nuggets, but fries aren’t on the Weight Watchers menu? How can anyone have the nuggets without any fries, not to mention the vanilla milk shake?

Don’t get me wrong, I think that this is a great PR move, to combined one of the world’s most trusted weight loss program with the world’s favorite fast food restaurant. I think some people will be excited they could have nuggets and fish sandwiches from McDonald’s, and Weigh Watcher’s will be excited for the publicity as well. However, is this really going to work? Will people want to eat McDonald’s and trust they can lose weight while eating McDonald’s?

Furthermore, I agree with Weight Watchers that is it important to balance your meals and have portion control. I personally think I would be more tempted when at the drive through to order more. Don’t get me wrong I am not fat or anything, which kind of makes this situation worse. If I am not obese and I am saying this, just imagine what people on an actual diet, already tempted are going to think. Self control is important while dieting; I guess that is why I never diet. I love fries, and until it is on the McDonald’s/Weight Watcher deal. No thank you, but I will feel better when I go for lunch and have the McNuggets (because it is on Weigh Watchers) Maybe, people will not eat the McNuggets who are on Weight Watchers, but more people will order them, like myself, because of the fact it is on Weight Watchers. In my opinion, more customers will start to think that the McNuggets and fish must not be that bad for you, lets try some.

I guess we can only watch and see how it does in New Zealand, and hope they bring the clever idea to America.

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9 Responses to McDonald’s strikes deal with Weight Watchers

  1. hbearat says:

    I am always amazed by what McDonald’s next move will be. They truly have revamped their entire image throughout the past decade. It seems like it truly is a smart PR move, it will attract large crowds and combine McDonald’s and Weight Watchers’ customers and therefore create high revenue. I hope that it becomes a successful move on their part and that they don’t end up losing profit, but I like to see a company take a big risk… in this tough economy you kind of need to do something to make you stand out.:)

  2. hmick says:

    I agree with hbearat in the fact that McDonald’s is CONSTANTLY changing what type of products they have and who they are appealing to. Before the whole “wave” of healthy eating started, I remember there not being one “healthy” item on the menu when I was in middle school. I think that it is definitely a smart PR move for McDonald’s to reinvent themselves but that’s not saying it’s going to work 100%. I agree that it will probably be hard for someone on a diet just to order something off the Weight Watchers menu, but I also think that it’s a benefit to them to be able to feel like they have options and variety when they need to grab some food on the go. Personally, I doubt you could lose any weight if you just ate something off the Weight Watchers menu every day @ Mcdonald’s but if this were your “splurge” item of the week than I can totally see it working.

  3. vlumpkin says:

    This is a really interesting article. If I remember correctly, McDonald’s launched their brand makeover after the documentary Super Size Me was released in 2004.
    The producer and central character of the documentary, Morgan Spurlock, told Newsweek reporter Brian Braiker he was inspired to film the documentary after he watched a news story about two girls suing McDonald’s because they claimed the food made them sick and overweight. A representative from McDonald’s was also interviewed for the story and asserted that McDonald’s food was nutritious.
    The documentary was damaging to McDonald’s brand because it showed, visually, that fast food is not nutritious and the adverse effects it can have on your body. The film had mass appeal and went viral. McDonald’s went into crisis communications mode and also revamped its entire menu.
    Prior to watching the documentary, I would eat at McDonald’s when I didn’t have time to pack my lunch. I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s since I watched the documentary in 2007. Partnering with Weight Watchers is a brilliant move because it has a very large and loyal following (a tribe). It seems like there are at least two people in my office who are on the Weight Watchers plan at any given time.
    Partnering with Weight Watchers puts McDonald’s in a position to regain some of the customers they lost (like me) and gain new customers.

  4. tburns says:

    This might be a good move for McDonald’s as they are trying to add a new, healthy element to their reputation. However, I wonder how this will affect Weight Watcher’s reputation.

    It is common sense that majority of McDonald’s menu consists of unhealthy foods. As pointed out in other comments, the “Super-size Me” documentary and two lawsuits against McDonald’s really pointed out a flaw in the the large corporation that is larger than life. On top of that, recently there has been emphasis on the obesity epidemic that is affecting our nation’s children and teens.

    How is it going to look when a company that is trying to promote healthy lifestyle habits is partnering up with a fast food restaurant that has some of the largest calorie counts on its menu? True, portion size is really a key to a healthy diet. However, as said before, there is temptation when looking at that menu. Also, how much focus is going to be put on advising people that portion size is a huge deal when trying to remain healthy? Would an obese child ordering from McDonald’s be informed that its only ONE 6-piece nugget meal that follows the point count system and not two or three orders?

    It might look to some people as though Weight Watcher’s is simply out to make more money and get their name and brand more publicity rather than really trying to help its followers lose weight and stay healthy. I do not think everyone is going to think this way, but I certainly think certain interest groups and group demographics might look at it this way.

  5. cwilusz says:

    Personally i think this is a great PR move for McDonalds. Taco Bell recently implemented a healthier option menu and I think people like having the option to get something healthier if they choose. Even though I think its a good idea I also can’t really believe that is it THAT healthy for you. The food is being mass produced and really we do not know what is going into the food at various fast food places. Personally if i were looking to get something that is a little better for me, McDonalds would not even cross my mind as an option.

  6. kwashburn says:

    This really erks me that McDonalds has joined in on this trend. First its the Taco Bell healthy tacos and now its McDonalds and Weight Watchers promoting chicken mcnuggets, what is the world coming to? If people are really sensible and realistic about their approach to losing weight, they would not be going through fast-food drive thrus, plain and simple. When you think of watching your weight, you don’t think of fried chicken nuggets. The fact that these two companies have partnered up angers me because this can confuse people into thinking something that isn’t true. Like you mentioned, they are leaving out the major points that you can’t have fries or a soft drink with your nuggets, and you are limited to six. This just isn’t realistic marketing and I think it is a spin within their PR approach, which is unethical.

  7. cnaughton says:

    The questions that this partnership raises are endless and many that have already commented have brought up several of them.

    First, what does this say for McDonald’s? I agree with cwilusz that this is a great PR move for them. They can now provide their customers with a “healthy” menu. However, this reminds me of the 100 calorie packs…they sound healthy but they really entice people to eat several 100 calorie packs. Great move for McDonald’s.

    Second, what does this say for Weight Watchers? Tburns points out that this could harm their image if people think they are in this partnership for money. I agree with this is definitely a possibility, but also that not everyone thinks this way.

    Third, will this partnership really benefit both McDonald’s and Weight Watchers? There’s no way to tell at this point, but I would speculate that the answer is no. McDoanld’s sales may increase (because of my 100 calorie pack theory), but I don’t think this will do anything profit-wise for Weight Watchers. I think this partnership will hurt their image.

    Kwashburn brings up an interesting point that this approach is unethical. I agree with that to an extent. While the parameters to this partnership are definitely strict, much of that information relies on the customer to find out. I think the problem here lies with Weight Watchers. Personally, I don’t think that this partnership reflects well on the service they are trying to provide. Are they legitimately helping people to lose weight or are they extending their reach (bringing in more revenue) by convincing people that losing weight may actually be easier than it seems (because now you can eat fast food)?

  8. kmcnally says:

    Wow this is crazy…McDonalds and Weight Watchers, two brands i never thought would be paired in the same sentence. While Weight Watchers has such a good name behind it, how can you be sure that eating the chicken nuggets will be good for you. Like many others have said, this is a great PR move on McDonalds part, because with the bad message they had from the movie “Super Size Me” so by them joining with Weight Watchers, their image may improve.
    I also agree with kashburn in the fact that if you are dieting and watching what you eat, why are you going through a drive-thru, you should be eating something better for you than chicken nuggets and fries. So i will be interested to see how this works out and if it really makes a difference, or if it is something that comes and goes.

  9. a_hundza says:

    Wow, way to go McDonald’s. Weight Watchers, ehh not so much.

    Personally, I think McDonald’s did a wonderful thing by teaming up with Weight Watchers, but what I fail to see is how this helps Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers has a very positive and strong brand identity that McDonald’s, I feel, may damage. This partnership is Weight Watchers caving for money to me, nothing else.

    Every company is suffering right now, but when the economy regains its strength I would want my loyal customers still behind me. This makes me wonder if Weight Watchers followers will reconsider their routes to that goal number.

    Anyway, go McDonald’s for being one of the nation’s leading enabler of obescity and managing to work its way across enemy lines!

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