What John Fahey could learn from McDonald’s

In Canada,
McDonald’s answers all sorts of questions

on their website, in full public view:

 In Canada’s National Post, columnist Jonathan Kay writes:

The whole “Your questions” site, which is also the basis for a TV ad campaign, is fascinating — because the questions presented are exactly the potentially embarrassing ones that PR executives, just a few years ago, would never have dreamed of addressing publicly. “Which parts of the cow do you use?” “Why is your oil brown?” “Is there ‘meat glue’ in any of your products?” “Are the milkshakes really made of edible plastic?” “I heard that McDonald’s loses money on salads and has them on the menu to be politically correct. Thoughts?”

Not to mention this one-word query: “Halal?”

My favourite one: “Why does my food never look like the food in your ads?” It’s a question every single person who has ever eaten a Big Mac has thought — but which, to my knowledge, has never been addressed by head office. Yet not only does McDonald’s answer the question candidly, the company even links to a video starring McDonald’s Canada’s Director of Marketing, who takes us backstage to a “food stylist” preparing a Quarter Pounder for photography. We even see the post-production photo-editing in which blemishes and such are removed digitally.

The McMessage here is simple: We have nothing to hide. Ask us anything you want. We’ll tell you the answer. It’s a tone-perfect campaign for an age in which transparency is king, and ordinary consumers are demanding more and more information from politicians, corporations, charities, journalists… and, yes, burger joints.


Meanwhile, at our Society:

John Fahey National Geographic

John Fahey, Chairman & CEO of National Geographic,
rarely, if ever, gives interviews.
But if McDonald’s can answer uncomfortable questions,
then John can, too.
You can encourage John to speak up
by clicking Like, below.

333 more people like Dear John: Let’s Talk but we can’t include their names.
(They’re either not on Facebook, or they’ve asked to remain anonymous.)
If you’re in the same boat, please email me
alan [at] societymatters [dot] org
and I’ll increase the total tally by one.

  • I believe people understand simple transparency and tolerate less-than-welcome answers more easily than blatant lies. McDonalds’s never passes itself off as haute cuisine. The Geographic Channel passes itself off as an extension of the magazine, today and yesterday. This is a lie.

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