LOS ANGELES – McDonald's Corp. (MCD), fresh from a makeover of everything from its menu to its ads, now wants to upgrade its restaurant staff uniforms to make them hipper and more befitting the MTV generation, a spokesman said Tuesday.
"Our crew in many respects are ambassadors of our brand, and we want their attire to be consistent with that," said Bill Whitman, McDonald's USA spokesman.
McDonald's "I'm Lovin' It (search)" advertising campaign, with its catchy jingle and youth-oriented television commercials, has helped the world's largest burger chain gain traction with U.S. consumers since its launch almost two years ago.
To spearhead the uniform project, the world's largest restaurant chain has hired Steve Stoute of New York-based brand imaging firm Translation, Whitman said. Stoute, a former record executive, is responsible for hooking up rapper Jay-Z (search) with Reebok International Ltd. (RBK) and has worked with McDonald's previously on its partnerships with performers Justin Timberlake (search) and Destiny's Child (search).
According to Stoute, talks are underway with some of the world's best-known clothing labels, including Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' (search) Sean John label, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. (RL), Giorgio Armani, hip hop mogul Russell Simmons' Phat Farm label, American Eagle Outfitters Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Rocawear, and Tommy Hilfiger.
McDonald's Whitman said the company was not yet negotiating with any specific designers and described the current discussions as informal and internal to McDonald's.
"We haven't inked any deals," he said.
The new uniforms will be more contemporary in their look, but will be inspired by the original McDonald's uniform designs from the 1950s and '60s -- much like the diner staff uniforms on the television comedy "Happy Days," Stout said.
"We're going to go through different processes in coming to a final list of designers," Stoute said in an interview, adding that the uniform designs would likely change several times a year and could show up in McDonald's restaurants in 2006.
Whitman said it was premature to speculate on when the company's 30,000 workers might be sporting new attire.
"McDonald's is acknowledging fashion is part of pop culture," Stoute said, adding that the uniforms "may have some elements that you see on MTV" and may be able to be worn as street clothes during non-work hours.
A spokeswoman for Tommy Hilfiger Corp. said the company was not in talks with McDonald's. Officials from Sean John, Ralph Lauren, Armani, American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch and Rocawear could not immediately be reached for comment.