With profits failing to meet Wall Street’s expectations and lagging sales, fast food giant McDonald’s has launched an ambitious and somewhat risky marketing campaign centered on what exactly is in the food it offers consumers. You may have noticed the brand’s recent TV commercials, which feature a large McDonald’s kiosk on a sidewalk encouraging pedestrians to ask questions about the restaurant’s food.
According to Ryan Johnson of Social Media Today, the ad campaign is in response to more widespread desire on the part of consumers to know what’s in the food they eat. Chipotle, a company with ties to McDonald’s, has had a great deal of success when it comes to the concept of transparency, and its profits have been impressive in 2014. McDonald’s is likely trying to follow suit, addressing consumer concerns that the restaurant chain’s food is chock full of chemicals and artificial ingredients.
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However, according to Johnson, this latest marketing strategy misses the mark. For one, McDonald’s doesn’t seem to truly know how to compete in today’s digital world and struggles to offer a consistent message through its social media and content marketing efforts. For example, consumers are invited to learn more about the brand’s ingredients on its website, but doesn’t offer much in terms of insightful—or even truly honest—information.
As an example, Johnson points out that McDonald’s describes its Chicken McNuggets as essentially white meat chicken and chicken skin, combined with a marinade. The truth appears to be much more complex, however, as this description leaves out the laundry list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients actually contained in the nuggets.
Above all, the McDonald’s “Our Food, Your Questions” campaign suffers, according to marketing experts, from a lack of honesty and self-awareness. It continues to invest millions of dollars in television ads that are becoming less and less effective, while struggling to maintain meaningful interactions with consumers via social media.
So what’s the lesson we can learn from one of the world’s largest corporations? In today’s marketing environment, consumers have access to essentially all of the information they need if they’re willing to dig deep enough. Thus, brands need to have a high level of transparency and back it up with rich information and insights that their friends and followers can truly use.
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