“Is your meat 100% beef?” “Are your eggs real?” “Does your meat include pink slime?” Those are some of the questions people have had about the food at McDonald’s.
In the fall of 2014, the McDonald’s USA launched a concerted effort in the United States to answer those questions and more.
With ads on television, YouTube videos, FAQs at its website, and engagement on Twitter and Facebook, it kicked off a campaign called “Our Food. Your Questions.” The campaign answered the questions McDonald’s knew people were interested in, and tracked down answers for many unexpected questions people posed on social media.
The campaign has been high profile, with videos such as “What are McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets made of?” and “What are McDonald’s USA fries made of?” garnering millions of views (over 8 million and 6 million respectively). During the fall campaign as well, Twitter users posted questions and comments with the hashtag #ourfoodyourquestions.
A year later, one of the big payoffs has been a more educated consumer base. “We’re seeing a much more informed consumer base that’s willing to rally for us,” says Lainey Garcia, manager of brand reputation and public relations for McDonald’s USA.
Garcia, who tweets as “McDonald’s PR Girl” at @Lainey_McD, was at the center of the effort to pull the digital campaign together. She says it was a big cultural change for the organization. People within the company “had to step outside of their day-to-day activities to assess new questions that popped up and answer them very thoughtfully,” she says. It was hard for many managers to understand that the campaign would invariably invite tough questions and “that our consumers expected to get an answer to right away.”
In a conversation with Gerald C. (Jerry) Kane, an associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and guest editor for MIT Sloan Management Review’s Digital Leadership Initiative, Garcia explains how the campaign was developed (in under three months) and what the payoff has been.