In an effort to reverse recent sales declines, marketers at Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s Corp. are working at top speed to reposition the QSR giant for future success, allowing customers to inspect what’s on the griddle and attempting to shore up the company’s focus on service.
In October 2014, McDonald’s marketers in the U.S. leveraged the popularity of a social-media-oriented campaign that had run in Canada in Australia, called “Our Food. Your Questions” in an effort to appeal to consumers’ growing interest in knowing where their food comes from and how it’s made by giving McDonald’s customers the ability to have their questions about the fast-food purveyor’s menu answered online. In January, McDonald’s unveiled a new brand vision, debuting new commercials using its classic tagline, “I’m lovin’ it,” cutting back on menu options and introducing a new, minimalist package design. Marketing News Weekly got the dish on the transparency-oriented campaign from Julie Wenger, senior director of U.S. marketing at McDonald’s, in October and recently, we followed up with her to discuss the campaign’s results and the company’s new brand vision.
Q: The goal of ‘Our Food. Your Questions’ was to bust misconceptions about McDonalds’ food and be more transparent about its offerings. How has the campaign done?
A: We’re so pleased with the results that we’re seeing from the campaign. We’re keeping a really close eye on how the perception [of our offerings] is shifting as we engage in this two-way conversation with consumers, and we’re seeing an extremely positive response.
Q: How many questions have you answered so far?
A: We’ve answered more than 25,000 questions about our food on social media since the campaign’s launch in October. We’ve had 10 million visitors to the food quality section of our website, and we’ve had more than 19 million YouTube views of the videos.
Q: In January, McDonald’s announced a new brand vision, changing its philosophy from ‘billions served’ to ‘billions heard.’ How does ‘Our Food. Your Questions’ fit into this new brand vision, and how will this shift in messaging help McDonald’s attract more customers?
A: ‘Our Food. Your Questions’ really laid the foundation for the idea of shifting from ‘billions served’ to ‘billions heard’ because it’s all about two-way conversation. We want to listen to those questions, understand what consumers are thinking about our brand, and respond to those questions, so it fits very well with where we’re going as a brand.
Q: McDonald’s also is streamlining its menu options and redesigning its packaging. How could going back to the company’s roots help turn sales around or increase brand affinity overall?
A: We’re trying to reinvigorate the brand, and all of the moves that you’re seeing are in the interest of doing what we’ve always done: Put more ‘lovin’’ in the world and demonstrate that in a new way. The packaging—the new look and feel—is really consistent with the fun, lighthearted tone you’re hearing in our ads.
Q: Will any of the insights you’ve gathered from ‘Our Food. Your Questions’ be used in future ad campaigns or marketing efforts?
A: There’s not an end date to this campaign. It’s fundamentally about an ongoing two-way conversation with our customers. We’ve learned that people are really interested in our food and our brand. They have really thoughtful, unique questions, and we’ve been able to provide a lot of facts and have fun with the answers.
For more on food marketing, check out the January 2015 issue of Marketing News.
This article was originally published in the Jan. 20, 2015 issue of Marketing News Weekly.
Christine Birkner is the senior staff writer for Marketing News and Marketing News Weekly. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.