Fast food retailers use transparency to retain customers

Fast food retailers use ad campaigns to address issues of food quality and ingredients.

McDonald's used ad to address 'pink slime' concerns

McDonald's saw a key sales figure drop in the U.S. again in February 2014, as the world's biggest hamburger chain struggles to beat back competition and adapt to changing eating habits. (The Associated Press)
In 2012, McDonald’s Canada began posting videos which answered customer questions and attempted to dispel urban myths about its products.

In the latest video, entitled “Pink Goop in 
Chicken McNuggets,” we visit the factory where the product is made.

Whether that makes you long for a big serving of Chicken McNuggets or not, Canada isn’t the only country where McDonald’s is attempting to defend what’s in its chicken products.

In a 
Chinese ad from 2011, we see cute little newly-hatched baby chicks playing with a cute little kid. In addition to claiming that McDonald’s chickens are 100 per cent natural, the announcer stresses the importance of following the rules of nature and that the process of growing up has no shortcuts.

Unfortunately, social media erupted with outrage at the thought of McDonald’s killing all those responsibly-raised little chicks and turning them into burgers.

Due to McDonald’s reputation for beef burgers, it isn’t nearly as popular with chicken-loving Chinese consumers as KFC

In this commercial, we see young men studying until they’re interrupted by NBA star Jeremy Lin. A basketball game ensues on a court plastered with KFC logos. But KFC has been having challenges in China too. A 2012 news report revealed that some of its suppliers had been using high levels of antibiotics and hormones, to the extent that birds were being raised to maturity in just 45 days.

KFC pointed out that number was actually the industry norm. But given all the other food scares in China—like infant milk containing melamine and cooking oil collected from gutters—consumers were understandably put off, and KFC sales dropped 20 per cent. 

Immediately switching into damage-control mode, the company launched Operation Thunder.

Included in the campaign was a poetry contest in which consumers were invited to write a verse featuring the phrase, “The chicken are innocent.” The intention was to shift any blame away from the chickens and KFC, and onto illicit drug use by suppliers instead.

Consumers around the world are growing increasingly suspicious of the food supply. In response, a growing trend in food marketing is transparency, either real or perceived.

consumers feel they have a full understanding of what’s in a food product—even if it’s not an entirely appetizing picture—they’ll continue buying it. If not, they’ll switch to a competing brand for as long as it can retain their confidence.