Tuesday Blink: McDonald’s Our Food, Your Questions Campaign

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A while ago, McDonald’s launched their “Our Food, Your Questions” campaign and website.

Like this topic? I’ve also written a follow-up post on McDonald’s posters for “Our Food, Your Questions.”

And, as someone who has actually read ingredient listings for their “market-fresh” wraps, I was skeptical.

For the record, only the lettuce and tomato were listed as lettuce and tomato. The wrap shell and meat and cheese had things in them I could not pronounce.

The disconnect this poses between the ingredients list and that TV ad where the smiling market vendors appear to be pouring their fresh, unprocessed ingredients into the wrap in an actor’s hand is hilarious to me. Anyway.

The first video played it safe:

It’s well-executed, but essentially PhotoShop 101 for the uninitiated (and a clever riff on that Dove ad). Regardless, it’s had over 7,000,000 views  and is definitely the most popular in the series as per the chart of topics and views.

Video popularity for McDonald's Your Questions Our Answers campaignHitting this soft target first was smart, so props to whoever made that call. (I guess that’s you, Hope.)

I would imagine many were impressed by the transparency demonstrated over a largely inoffensive issue and were reassured about McDonald’s as a corporation.

I visited their Our Food, Your Questions website not long after it launched.

The interface is clean and well structured.

Colour is used with meaning (always a yay in my book) to group questions by theme.

Main scroll for the Our Food Your Questions McDonalds site
The main scroll for the Our Food, Your Questions McDonald’s promo website.

At the time, there were many questions and no written responses.

I scanned the oodles of grammatically-questionable questions, some polite and others blunt to the point of rudeness, and thought they’d opened a can of worms.

Why doesn't your food rot like God and nature intended--or, the best research contract McDonald's ever bought.
Why doesn’t your food rot like God and nature intended–or, the best research contract McDonald’s ever bought.

But you have to admire McDonald’s willingness to be unflinching.

And they’ve faced tougher questions than `why does the food look different in the store than it does in your TV ad?’

The most frequently questions appear to be about the meat.

  • What’s in the beef?
  • Do you get your beef from a company called 100% beef (they say it’s Cargill).
  • What’re McNuggets made of?
  • Why doesn’t your food rot?  (A clear nod to the influence of Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me and Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation, and the way those narratives have changed how we think about fast food, the way it is made and the effect it has on our bodies and environment.)

Putri Question to McDonaldsAnd then there are questions like this one from Putri.

The strategist in me can’t help but admire the bare bones approach.

You want to be provocative and ask how old the cows and chickens are when we kill them to make your burgers?

45 or 60 days for chickens. Between one and two years for cows.

You’re welcome.

They don’t bury it in prose. The answer is right there in the first line, front-loaded and unflinching.


Background image of Chickens when you sort questions by chicken
Chickens really sit around just like this before being slaughtered. And the Easter Bunny is real.

Never mind the majestic cow herd photo I get in the background when I sort the questions by topic for beef (yeah, right, says my inner cynic) or the artful chicken whimsically sitting among feathers and hay when I sort questions by the chicken topic (tell me another one).

What’s influential is their willingness to go on the record for Mozee from London, On and Jessica D. from Prince George and Safiya from Scarborough over and over and over, even for a customer like me who had virtually phased McDonalds out of my life until I reproduced.

How many cows in my burgerThe harder questions—like this one from Matthew D.—are also there. Something unsettling still lurks around the edges of the polite answer.

(Um, we don’t know how many cows are ground up in your burger, Matthew. But we use good cuts so thanks for asking!)

Then again, how many people spent enough time on the site to find and read that answer?

How many people saw the attempt at some kind of transparent discussion around McDonald’s food and were satisfied?

More importantly, how many people had unsettling questions lurking in the back of their minds every time they walked up to a McDonald’s counter, voiced those questions online, were answered, and told their friends?

This, friends, is how you stay the market leader.

Well played, McDonald’s. Well played.