Yesterday, McDonald’s Canada treated their audience to an inside look at why the burgers in McDonald’s ads look so much more appetizing than the ones you get when you actually purchase one for yourself. See the video below:
The Secret To Beautiful Burgers
The secret to the beautiful burgers in McDonald’s advertisements won’t surprise you. It amounts to a few diligent hours of preparation by food stylists topped off with a Photoshop touch-up session; much as you’d expect for a human model about to find him/herself on the cover of a fashion magazine.
No big surprises there, but some of you are probably surprised (or skeptical) that the ingredients they use are the same as the ones used in the store.
Nevertheless, there are a few interesting takeaways.
Authentic Stories Resonate With Consumers
The days of food brands marketing their products based solely on claims like “Tastes Better” and “Less Fat” are now over. When McDonald’s overtly makes moves to establish consumer trust by effectively showing their boxer shorts on the internet, you can be assured they know it’s worth the risk of blowback. They believe that so earnestly, they’re addressing an un-authentic marketing tactic in an authentic way. We all know that addressing your weaknesses is an effective way to build trust.
Takeaway: Do you know that your customers have questions you haven’t answered? It’s time to step up to the plate with answers.
Social Engagement Is Paramount
McDonald’s Canada is using social media and a question-answer engagement website to connect with their customers. They’re fielding question from their audience on a daily basis, and you can imagine that consumers have a lot of questions for McDonald’s. Often when a controversial food brand open up a forum like that, they face the most challenging questions first.
They’re taking this to the next level by answering questions using video, and putting the people behind their brand front and center. They’re humanizing the corporation, which is one of the very best ways for companies to use social media.
Takeaway: If McDonald’s is willing to tell their story on social media, how long can you get away with staying quiet?
Authenticity Is Becoming More Authentic
We just noticed this…Forstbauer Family Natural Food Farm is using the Foodtree app to let their customers know what’s about to be available at a local farmers market tonight…HOW GREAT IS THAT?
Check out Forstbauer’s profile and photo stream here.
The stream’s latest are photos of food recently harvested, taken by the farm themselves, and available tonight at the Royal City Farmers Market in New Westminster, just outside of Vancouver.
Talk about fresh, real time food insights.
This is a truly innovative way for communities to see fresh food nearby, where they go to buy it, and who it’s made by.
If you’re reading this post and you’re near that market, why not head down and grab some Zuccinni Blossoms or Strawberries?
When we started working on the database at Foodtree, we discussed sources and products. Realizing that the word product makes it easy to detach ourselves from food, we now have a “product swear jar.” While I’ll avoid boring you with the linguistic determinism of Jacques Derrida, suffice to say that language matters. Yes, there is a debate about exactly how much meaning is conferred by language alone, but the science is beginning to corroborate the philosophical evidence. There are far too many food and wine businesses marketing themselves as organic, local, artisan, and natural when they really aren’t. For example, “artisan.” Wikipedia describes, “an artisan (from Italian: artigiano) is a skilled manual worker who makes items that may be functional or strictly decorative, including furniture, clothing, jewelry, household items, and tools. The term can also be used as an adjective to refer to the craft of hand making food products, such as bread, beverages and cheese.” Take particular note of the word craft when referring to foodstuffs (I do take umbrage with the use of products here). Craft is a skill, especially in practical arts. It is often a trade. It is not a commodity. If you have taken steps towards factory-style methods, industrialization or commodification, your products (yes, products) are not artisan.
I’ll refrain from calling out those of you who engage in marketing b.s. and highlight a few people doing things properly: Nick Schade makes beautiful kayaks; Three artisan winemakers ; and Silvio who makes cheese in the Langhe hills of Piemonte from the breed of autochthonous sheep he raises in his own pastures
We aren’t talking about color specificity or semantic games, but actually how we communicate and understand food. Food is a human requirement. No food=death. While it might seem cute or artistic license or even clever, using language to obfuscate the truth about a basic human necessity is wrong.
And thinking of food as merely a product is the beginning of a great disservice, of commodification, and the loss of our very humanity.