McDonald's is preparing a new slogan, and you already hate it

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Branding experts are already giving the company's tagline the pink-slime treatment

What if they launched a slogan and nobody bit?

McDonald’s is reportedly set to unveil a new slogan early next year. So far, critics aren’t lovin’ it. In fact, many of them are giving it the New Coke treatment. (For anybody born after 1985, that means they really hate it.) Which is ironic since the new slogan is "Lovin’ Beats Hatin'."

As true as that sentiment may be, many consumers seem to be struggling to understand just what it means to them. Eater.com thinks it sounds like a Drake lyric. That could be a compliment or an insult depending on who you ask, but it almost certainly isn’t the kind of thing that makes people ask themselves if they deserve a break today.

Piyush Kumar, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business who recently wrote a study on the keys to slogan likeability for the Journal of Business Research, told CBS MoneyWatch that some consumers "will be completely thrown off by the dramatic transition from the warm and fuzzy 'I'm lovin' it' to the negative-emotion-laden 'Lovin' Beats Hatin'.' "

Emotionally sensitive consumers can rest easy knowing McDonald’s will not be retiring the "I’m Lovin’ It" slogan. The Wall Street Journal reported the new slogan may have been a response to some critics who think McDonald’s needs a new ad direction.

" ‘I’m Lovin' It’ has been an enormous success for McDonald’s over the years, but even the most successful campaigns need to evolve and stay fresh," Mark Kalinowski, lead restaurant analyst at Janney, told the Journal.

The success or failure of the new campaign will come at a critical time for McDonald’s, which posted a 3.3 percent decrease in global sales in the third quarter. The Journal reported that although the burger chain spent just under $1 billion on U.S. ads last year, it’s not necessarily outperforming its competition. According to Los Angeles research firm ACE Metrix, Wendy’s and Burger King commercials have outperformed McDonald’s commercials so far this year.

McDonald's hasn't confirmed the new slogan, but it’s not good when the Internet snark begins months before a campaign goes live. Especially not when so many people just finished having a field day with McDonald’s "Our Food, Your Questions" campaign.

Sure, Mickey D’s scored some points for transparency when it invited consumers to post questions about their food on the company website, but it remains to be seen if it will actually create tighter bonds with consumers. There is always the chance the campaign will be best remembered for a skewering by comedian John Oliver.

McDonald’s is going through a rough patch, but it’s not the first time. After sluggish sales in the early 2000s, including its first quarterly loss, in 2002, the company restructured and surged back to profitability. If nothing else, McDonald’s seems to know it needs to make a change. And acknowledgin’ is better than ignorin’.

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