McDonald's battles 'pink slime' rumors with transparency campaign

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The chain is launching a transparency drive to answer the public's questions about its food and methods

OAK BROOK, IL — McDonald’s is launching a transparency drive to answer the public's questions about its food and methods.

The hamburger chain is confronting difficult questions as part of a campaign entitled "Our Food, Your Questions," aimed at dispelling myths that exist about its menu items. The initiative is primarily taking place in the company’s U.S. market, supported by TV ads, but is driven by social media and unlikely to be contained to an American audience. It first aired in Canada earlier this year.

The first spot tackles widely circulated pictures that show horrors such as "pink slime" and videos of burgers remaining intact for months or even years. On a specially created website, the chain takes questions from social media and replies. Some elicit extensive responses explaining farming methods, while others such as "Does McDonald’s beef contain worms?" receive swift rebuffs such as "No. Gross! End of story."

Despite posting a picture of the infamous "pink slime" and denying it was used in any McDonald’s food, it answered the question, "Have you ever used so-called ‘pink slime’ in your burgers?" with, "Yes, we used Lean Finely Textured Beef between 2004 and 2011. We do not use this today."

Other direct questions, such as: "Does your beef contain hormones?" are met with frank answers. The response to that question was, "Most of the cattle we get our beef from are treated with added hormones, a common practice in the U.S. that ranchers use to promote growth."

The company has also hired Grant Imahara, the former host of the Discovery Channel’s "MythBusters," as part of the campaign. Imahara will appear in a series of videos as he travels across America visiting McDonald’s suppliers and restaurants.

Additionally, the doors to a McDonald’s food plant in Fresno, Calif., were thrown open to cameras from "Good Morning America," allowing scenes showing production methods to be filmed.

"This is being done to address the questions, the comments, and the concerns of our customers," Kevin Newell, chief brand and strategy officer for McDonald’s USA, told "Good Morning America."

"It’s not linked to the business performance at all," he said. "It’s linked to making sure that our customers truly know the story about McDonald’s food."

This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk.

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