Movie Title: The Founder
Duration: 110 minutes
Producers: Jeremy Renner, Karen Lunder, Don Handfield, Aaron Ryder
Director: John Lee Hancock
Production Year: 2016
Reviewer: Olutayo Irantiola
‘Contracts are like hearts, they are made to be broken’
- Ray Kroc
The journey of entrepreneurship is such a precarious one; it takes a great sense of wisdom to navigate the murky waters till one can be tagged successful. The movie, ‘The Founder’ which is based on a true life story calls for a lot of deep reflections when it comes to business partnership.
Michael Keaton starred as Ray Kroc, a travelling sales man selling Prince Castle brand milkshake mixers while trying to do his regular job, he ran into the McDonald’s restaurant in California, a highly popular walk-in restaurant with fast service, high quality food, disposable packaging and a family-friendly atmosphere.
As typical of anybody in the Marketing Communications industry, he walked up to the brothers; Dick and Mac McDonald played by Nick Offerman and John Caroll Lynch, they shared their success story with him- how they started, built their ideas off the ground, closed up their thriving business to develop various prototypes till they got the one that would best work for them within 6 hours. It was a revolutionary idea but they ran into a challenge and they had a grand opening.
As time went on, Ray encouraged the brothers to focus on what they sell. However, he continually pressured the brothers to developing a franchise system for their company but they were firstly reluctant- like it is said, ‘do not say yes to every good idea’– as a result of a previous experience which borders on Quality Control and Mismanagement. They had the intention of making the best of their location. After much consideration, they agreed to sign him the Head of Franchising. The contract was in black and white.
This gave him the desired foot into the business, he got many people interested in the franchise, people bought into the business. He supervised the various outlets to ensure that quality control was actually in place. He became very renowned and this made him say, ‘a reputation precedes me’. That was the beginning of his claim as the founder of the retail chain outlet.
Gradually, the business grew tremendously, he was not making good funds as expected and this led him to floating another company, Franchise Realty Corporation. This new company owned all the assets of all McDonalds stores while the brothers owned their local location. In fact, when they were thinking of suing him, he said and I paraphased, ‘you own a local business, I own a national business.’
The ploy to take over the company from the brothers led him to registering another company called, The McDonalds Corporation; this he tagged the development of a winning concept! This company eventually trumped the brothers. They tried to call him to order based on the agreement, but he told them he wanted to take the future. He said, ‘business is war, its dog eat dog, rat eat rat, if my competition were drowning, I will walk over it and I would put a hose right in his mouth’
Ultimately, he paid them off by giving them a cheque of One million, three hundred and fifty thousand dollars each; unfortunately, he did not give them the agreed royalty going forward. For him, it was his perseverance and determination that made him successful at an age when his contemporaries are thinking of retiring.
Some of the PR and Marketing tactics that are visible in the play was used by both the McDonalds brothers and by Ray. We can deduce that Ray won this game based on his topnotch understanding of the marketing communications mix.
One of the first striking statements of Ray in the movie is, ‘the customer knows if you run a shaky establishment’. The understanding of the customer is the first step in winning any war against a competition. While the brothers also mentioned that ‘they had to focus on what sells. This reflects they can analyze their sales and determine what best brings in the profit and they had to stick to it.
In order to build a thriving business, the McDonalds brothers created a tested idea; this is a fundamental part of experiential marketing because the easiest way of disappointing a customer is when an untested product is given out.
Rebranding is a very fundamental part of PR and Marketing tactics. When companies get to a certain stage, it may have to rebrand and this was done by the McDonalds brothers. After the rebranding, they had limited patronage, thereafter they had a big bang grand reopening and this led to a lot of Word-of-mouth advertisement and that led to the desired spike in sales.
No organization grows with effective strategy and brainstorming meetings. As a Consultant, Ray spoke convincingly about the benefits of franchising to the brand and it has the capacity to turn McDonalds to a new American church.
After Ray was signed, he did very nice professionally done brochure; he got sponsorship from Coca-cola; he networked strategically with others- he attended a-list events, he had high net worth associates at the Golf club; he utilized many speaking opportunities where he sold the vision to people. All of these led to one of his comments, ‘those who need franchises are now the ones chasing me.’
Likewise, we cannot leave Ray’s winning marketing streak, which goes thus, “if you have $1 to spend on marketing, spend it on kids, because they bring Mom and Dad”.
When he upped his ante by registering the third company, he used photo opportunities to support his visibility across all media platforms and the profiling of the brand after he took over the company.
Although, it is saddening to see the McDonalds brothers lose their hard-earned name and reputation to him but it is a reality that business owners need to face. As you are building the burger business, learn also to build other adjoining areas that will lead to great success. You are as good as the last time the world heard from you.
The way to take the future like Ray is to strategically embed PR and Marketing tactics into your business model so that you won’t loss it to an overtly ambitious and desperate person who intends to take credit for all the labours past.
Enjoy the thriller-