McDonald’s Takes a Stab at this “Authenticity” Thing



McDonald’s is having a rough year. Actually, they’re having a rough few years. Recently, McDonald’s has faced a boat-load of bad PR regarding the wages they pay their workers, the quality of their ingredients, and even their handling of social media campaigns. To make matters worse, there are fast-casual barbarians at the gates as America turns her hungry eyes towards Chipotle.


What’s an industry-leading fast-food chain to do when they are beset by the disruption of so many facets of their business? Well, after a few years of panic, McDonald’s has decided it’s time to stop being polite, and start getting real.


McDonald’s Gets Authentic (Kind of)


Many of the issues facing McDonald’s are complicated to address. Issues like employee compensation and changing consumer tastes are not going to be easily fixed. However, McDonald’s can address some of the questions that have arisen about their products on social media. As previously noted, McD’s is the subject of quite a bit of negative feedback on Facebook and Twitter. Social users complain about the low-quality of McDonald’s ingredients, and while some of that criticism is valid, much of it is essentially baseless hearsay. McDonald’s has determined that the best way to combat these rumors is to tackle them head on.


Answering Some of Their Biggest Criticisms


Is there pink slime in the burgers? How about eyeballs? In a series of new videos¬†(and a website encouraging people to directly ask McDonald’s their questions)¬†featuring former “Mythbusters” star Grant Imahara, a friendly, charismatic face, McDonald’s tackles these questions head on. We see in the first video Imahara visiting the meat-processing facility where some of McDonald’s all-beef patties are made. Over the course of the video, he directly addresses and refutes several common criticisms of McDonald’s burgers before enjoying a Big Mac at the end of the video.


So Will It Work?


Only time will tell. Despite the effort to be “authentic” there is still something that feels off in the video. It feels very staged as Imahara tours select parts of the facility. The answers he gets feel rehearsed. The smiles on the faces of the workers seem a little too big. The video currently has nearly as many “dislikes” on YouTube as it has “likes.” In addition: McDonald’s is producing these videos themselves. There is going to be, to an extent, some skepticism over anything they say as the answers to customer concerns aren’t being addressed by an organization that might be considered independent. People may still end up believing that McDonald’s is lying or at least distorting the truth. One thing is certain: if a brand like McDonald’s is at least making an attempt at being authentic, then honesty and authenticity in marketing are certainly here to stay.


So is it possible for a big brand to succeed through authenticity? Here are 6 brands who scored big wins by being authentic.