Management Professor Says McDonald's Commercial Is on Track

By Jacqueline Ghosen

Release Date: May 22, 2007 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- McDonald's new advertising campaign to promote high-level career opportunities within the company is a great way to fight the connotation of dead-end drudgery and low wages that comes with "McJobs," according to Jerry M. Newman, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the University at Buffalo School of Management.

Having worked undercover at seven fast-food restaurants across the United States, including McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's, Newman, author of "My Secret Life on the McJob," says that McDonald's has the right idea in its newest television commercial.

The spot features Karen King, president of McDonald's USA East Division, extolling the virtues of the high schooler who gets a job at McDonald's, working hard and taking advantage of opportunities. Through a lightning-fast series of flashbacks, it is revealed that she is the "kid who worked at one McDonald's and now leads thousands."

Newman believes that the best way to change the negative image of a "McJob" is by positively redefining the perception of the fast-food worker.

"The skill sets that employees learn on the job will serve them well in the work force, whether they choose to move on to another industry or stay in fast food," says Newman.

"A fast-food worker is able to handle a variety of demands and produce under pressure, a veritable Big Mac of reliability, integrity and workplace maturity," he adds.

He points out the three top attributes of fast food workers that can redefine the McJob:

* Reliability: Fast food doesn't tolerate workers who are late or absent. You learn this or you are gone.

* Grace under Pressure: The daily lunch rush forces workers to learn that their limits are higher than they imagined. It's not called "fast food" for nothing. Workers also learn that it has to be done right the first time. Speed plus care equals high productivity.

* Ability to Handle Constructive Criticism: Fast food workers are trained in environments where feedback is almost constant. They learn that feedback is a positive force necessary for growth; consequently they learn to not be defensive, but instead are open to receiving as well as giving constructive criticism.

Newman is chair of the Department of Organization and Human Resources in the UB School of Management and the author of nearly 100 articles on compensation and rewards, performance management and other human resource issues. He is the co-author of "Compensation" (McGraw-Hill), which has been the bestselling book in the category for 21 years. He also has served as a consultant for several Fortune 500 firms, including AT&T, Hewlett-Packard and Nabisco. He is the recipient of nine teaching awards.

The Wall Street Journal ranks the UB School of Management 10th in the nation among schools with strong regional recruiting bases. In addition, BusinessWeek ranks the school as one of the country's top five business schools for the fastest return on MBA investment and Forbes cites it as one of the best business schools in the U.S. for the return on investment it provides MBA graduates.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 27,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.