McDonalds Canada recently undertook a gutsy PR campaign to disprove some stereotypes about their food. In a bold move, they made any question available for answer via the website Our Food. Your Questions. Nothing is off-the-table, from “what’s in your meat” to “why do your burgers look different than the commercials.” I was surprised by the honesty shown by such a large company as it’s really uncommon to embrace public opinion in such a head on way. As I started looking through the questions and answers, I was actually surprise by how different McDonald’s Canada is from McDonalds USA. The ingredients are remarkably different. Canada doesn’t use pink slime, the beef is 100% Albertan, and the lettuce doesn’t contain GMO’s.
McDonalds Canada has done an exceptional job of communicating to their lovers and haters alike. With videos, interaction from their corporate executives, and admission of areas needing improvement, McDonalds has tactfully started down a long road to… and that’s where I get lost. What is McDonalds trying to achieve?
A healthier image? Fast food is good for you? McDonalds is part of a nutritious meal?
If this is the case, I applaud their efforts because this is a very very long road. Unfortunately for them, McDonalds is the epitome of unhealthy eating. Ask any stranger the question “What’s the first restaurant you think of when you consider unhealthy eating?” This opinion won’t change simply because McDonalds is highlighting a few of their healthier ingredients. If McDonalds had any chance of changing their public image (ie. the way Subway did with their Jared campaign) they should have deployed this campaign 10 years ago after the movie SuperSize Me came out. That would have been the perfect response.
Instead, McDonalds is going literally have wait it out for newer generations to impress this ‘healthier’ image upon, which is interesting because that still isn’t a ‘healthy’ image. Subway is synonymous with ‘healthy’ fast food, despite the actual truth. Answering questions about your food is not the same as creating healthy food, which is where McDonalds is stuck as a business. McDonalds makes its money off the low-end of the market, the cheapest of fast food, and making healthier food would cost more, thus bringing them out of that market. That’s the unfortunate thing in all of this. There is a strong market for cheap, fast food at the sacrifice of ones health. McDonalds doesn’t want to loose this market so I think they are trying to edge their way into the markets of Wendy’s and Burger King, who are generally seen as a ‘healthier’ alternative to McDonalds.
I could be wrong, but if McDonalds actually thinks they can change the minds of consumers to believe that McDonalds is ‘healthy’, they will have to stay this line for years, maybe a even decade. Additionally, they’d need to introduce a Subway-style ‘under 8 grams of fat’ type menu of full meal products to really promote this image. While this isn’t impossible, I think it’s really a question of whether McDonalds actually has the culture to move out of the low-cost, unhealthy foods.
I don’t think they want to.
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