In the past year, mega fast food franchise McDonald’s has exhibited an unexpected change – a move towards transparency in its content strategy to the public.
In an industry that has often been characterized for its opacity, controversial standards of cleanliness, and questionable practices, McDonald’s move towards pulling the curtain back on their operations, practices, and even their secret sauce has come as a welcomed move to many, and illustrates a change in how many organizations are marketing themselves.
The Old Playbook
Not too long ago, subjects like the disparity in asthetic quality between the McDonald’s Big Mac as advertised compared to its rather bland appearance when served, would regularly be dodged and deflected by franchise representatives. A food chain like McDonald’s would never openly come out and admit that it enhances the way a hamburger looks in a commercial. However in June 2012 McDonald’s did just that.
Pulling Back the Veil
In a short video, the Director of Marketing for McDonald’s Canada, , responds to the question of why the Big Mac never looks as good when purchased as it does in advertisements. In the old playbook for a scenario like this, McDonald’s would likely not even respond to this question. And if they did, one would expect them to sidestep the issue with a generic statement about the unquestionable quality of their food.
Bagozzi doesn’t deflect or dodge. Instead she shows a very candid view of the entire process, comparing a store-bought Big Mac to the one seen on TV. The Big Mac in advertisements is comprised of the best looking sesame buns, patties, cheese, pickles, lettus, and onions. The cheese is singed and the ketchup applied for maximum asthetic effect, the burger is positioned perfectly, and the image is photoshopped to erase small imperfections and boost the vibrancy of colors. This isn’t a third-party, behind-the-scenes look at what goes on, this isn’t an individual or a group trying to point out McDonald’s “lies” – this is McDonald’s coming out themselves and revealing their own practices.
Later last summer, in July 2012, McDonalds Canada Executive Chef went through the steps of how to make a Big Mac at home, even revealing the long-held secret ingredients to McDonald’s ‘secret sauce’. More recently, McDonald’s went to reveal the 17 different ingredients that go into their french fries, as well as many of their other menu items.
Transparency is the New Content Strategy
Is this just a McDonald’s PR move to better connect with its fans? Of course it is, but it’s a welcomed one, and one that might have big implications for the rest of the fast food industry.
The real implications from this move extends well beyond the fast food industry, taking its place as a centerpiece to content strategy for a much wider array of business going forward. Removing the veil on processes that don’t hurt a business can not only create a more positive image for the public, but also serves as great, easy content to distribute as part of an overall content marketing strategy.. Tell your custumers how your business performs a certain task or educate your fans on what your business’s “special sauce” is. Eliminating barriers between a company and its consumers doesn’t only generate interest and attention, it illicit’s a heightened connection with custumers and brings them that much closer in to what a company does while erasing potential pre-conceived skeptisism.
Whether your business takes a page from the McDonald’s playbook or not, take a look around and you might notice a more transparent business environment beginning to take hold.
Want more on McDonald’s new content strategy?
Check out CSWire’s upcoming October 9th webinar: McDonald’s: The Trend Toward Transparency and Authenticity (Free Livestream)