This week I've been following an eGullet thread about McDonald's new PR campaign meant to brainwash us into chanting their McManta about how healthy their McVittles are because they use high McQuality ingredients. Here's a link to the 24 October 2005 Reuters story that caught the Gifted Gourmet's eye: McDonald's touts quality in ad campaign.
Personally, my favourite line is from their hired marketing strategy gun, Jack Trout of Trout & Partners, "Maybe if people think they have this terrific quality, then they'll forget about the calories and the fat."
But wait...in a McAnnouncement on 25 October 2005 (yes, one day later), they told the world that they'll make nutritional info available on McFood wrappers. How are people supposed to "forget about the calories and fat" if the numbers are staring up at them while they mow down their Double Big Macs, large fries and McFlurrys...or is that McFlurries...? Maybe McMinds are hoping that globs of “special” sauce will cover up the info and people will be too lazy to clean it up to care.
Mind you, if their branding McGuru had done zir homework, zie would have realized that fast food went down this road before –remember the the 2003 “KFC is health food” campaign? (No, don’t try and access the article’s link to the media release; KFC removed it from their web site…even though other releases dating back to Feb 1999 seem to be there.)
The new McAd campaign ballyhoos the use of “USDA eggs,” “high quality chicken” and how they can trace back “more than 10 per cent” of McBeef to the individual McMoo. Woo. What about the other 80-something per cent? Don’t forget that in Canada they launched their “we proudly serve Alberta beef” campaign when that Albertan Mad Cow was discovered. The ads went away...signalling they were no longer proud to serve Alberta beef.
Another good Trout quotation "Will it fix it with the naysayers? No. But what it will do is present more of a rationale for the people who take their kids to this place."
I think it says soo much. McDonald’s realizes that parents are concerned about what they feed their kids—but not so concerned as to stop taking the little ones to McD’s on a regular basis. I also read disdain into the last two words of the quotation—do you get the idea that Mr. Trout doesn’t go to McDonald’s, nor feed his spawn there? It’s the “this place” phrase, not “this restaurant (remember McDonald’s thinks of itself as a restaurant and not a fast food outlet) or even “McDonald’s”
I can understand why McDonald’s is doing this. Currently six of 10 Americans are considered to be obese…and instead of blaming their own lack of nutritional education, diminished self-control or even herd mentality that attracts them to the toys, games or picutres of glisteny-shiny burgers for their obesity, some of these people are blaming fast food and launching multi-million class-action lawsuits. The Mothercorp doesn’t want to be held accountable for its products, much in the same way that Big Tobacco has.
I’m sure the people at McHO and Trout think this was a great article—they got the idea across that the food is prepared with top-quality ingredients. I (and a number of others) are not reading it that way—it’s a very negative story…but then again, I’m not their target audience…because I have a brain and am capable of critical thinking.
But of course, it’s all about transparency, isn’t it? As transparent as the grease-shined wrappers that enrobe their burgers and fries.
tags: KFC McDonald's