Food Suppliers Star in McDonald’s New Transparency Campaign

McDonald’s is set to launch a new ad campaign in January that features four of the restaurant’s beef and produce suppliers attesting to the quality of their ingredients.

The sneak peek of the first ad features potato supplier Frank Martinez in front of a mound of potatoes, peeling one of his spuds to the sound of acoustic strumming. He bites into a raw potato and says “They’re good now. Just wait ‘til they’re McDonald’s fries.” Cut to gently swaying field with the golden arches coming into focus against a morning sky next to the slogan, “i’m lovin it.”

The “farm 2 fork” commercials are part of the “What We’re Made Of” campaign that aims to answer customers’ questions about how the fast food giant sources ingredients. Spokeswoman Ashlee Yingling says that McDonald’s recognizes that people have questions about food ingredients, and the campaign “is about dispelling some of those myths… of where our food comes from.”

McDonald’s USA President and Senior Director of Nutrition embarked on a Listening Tour last summer to hear suggestions from customers on how to serve food, people and the environment. Senior executives have also participated in Twitter chats (@McDListenTour) to answer questions about everything from disclosing calorie counts to restaurant lighting to reusing cooking oil for biodiesel fuel.

The Huffington Post Food blog puts the campaign in the context of “farmer ad action” that has taken hold in the food advertising world over the last few years. Wendy’s focuses on “true” ingredients, Burger King touts freshness, and Red Lobster spotlights “real fisherman” as part of an industry-wide advertising trend to establish the relationship between sourcing and taste. Feel-good transparency campaigns aren’t unique to restaurants either, with “behind the scenes” TV spots for Perdue Farms and billboards of rugged farmers staring into the distance for Monsanto.

Advertising Age points out that the suppliers in the McDonalds ads are “secondary sources” and that “McDonald’s works directly with 250 suppliers, including Cargill, Lopez Foods, Golden State Foods, Simplot, Lamb Weston and Coca-Cola.” The everyman potato farmer is only one character in the farm-to-fork story, a tale that fast food execs might not be so quick to Tweet.

image: markhillary

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