McDonald’s Belgium – Brand Image development and CSR

Strategic advice for a brand image development strategy, perception management within the media, introduction of new positioning strategies, crisis communication and coaching of the executive team. Development of a local charity, the « Give a Smile » Children’s fund in 2001 as a translation of the brand’s corporate social responsibility.


The brand’s desire to reinforce its Belgian roots and to involve its network of franchisees and crew led Ine Mariën to identify a social commitment for McDonald’s that was in line with its values and its target audience. Starting from the “smile” theme, with the participation of each restaurant and with the collaboration of an independent medical committee, since 2001, the “Smile” Fund has substantially contributed towards paying for the care of children affected by facial birth defects. Recently, the Belgian Ronald Mc Donald Children’s Fund decided on investing about 2 million euro in the creation of a first Belgian “House” near to the UZ Jette in Brussels, to be operational in 2016. The Ronald McDonald Houses provide comfort and care to families of seriously ill children during their stay at the hospital.

Stephan De Brouwer, CEO Mc Donald’s Belgium, feels that the coherence of the project that was proposed with the objectives to be achieved contributed to its ongoing success: « Ine Mariën proposed a project that was completely in line with our expectations, as regards our brand’s social commitment, as well as with regard to effective and efficient help for children who really need it and their parents. Next to this, the project was also capable of mobilizing and implicating our crew. Ine Mariën helped raise the fund’s profile thanks to the endorsement of such personalities as Julie Taton (former Miss Belgium) and Kim Gevaert (Olympic athlete), among others with the press. She was an objective key player in the elaboration of this campaign. In particular, I appreciated the collaboration with Ine Mariën, her personal commitment and implication, her pertinence and her capacity to transform our expectations into a coherent and integrated vision. She is capable of listening, overhauling, and questioning everything all over again, which is very important for companies.