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McDonald's Taking Us Behind the Scenes in Hopes of Increasing U.S. Sales

LOS ANGELES, October 21, 2014 () – McDonald’s USA recently posted a YouTube video in which people on the street said the following:

I think it’s disgusting.

I can’t eat at McDonald’s based on what’s in the food.

They (sic) not real at food.

Needless to say, posting a video that starts out with people bashing your company isn’t exactly a traditional approach to positive branding. But in its latest attempt to target millennials (and to counter four straight months of declining U.S. sales), McDonald’s has rolled out “behind the scenes” webisodes entitled: “Our Food. Your Questions.”

The burger chain is asking anyone—from consumers to haters to skeptics — to submit questions via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media. McDonald's will respond to some of those questions with webisodes and other social content about how the food is produced and prepared.

The webisodes feature Grant Imahara, formerly the host of Discovery Channel's “MythBusters.” In an initial webisode, Imahara asks Rickette Collins, McDonald’s director of strategic supply, whether there’s lean finely textured beef, or “pink slime,” in any of the company’s meat (answer: no). In other webisode, Imahara goes to a Cargill facility in Fresno, California, to answer whether McDonald’s beef is real and not full of “lips and eyeballs” (answer: it’s 100% real beef trimmings, and the trimmings actually look pretty big) and gives a behind-the-scenes look at the assembly process.

The campaign may be a new approach for McDonald’s U.S. audience, but the company has launched similar campaigns in other countries. Back in January, McDonald’s Canada posted a YouTube video to answer the question of what’s in its chicken nuggets (answer: real chicken breast meat and not “pink goop”). And in November 2013, McDonald’s Australia posted a video asking whether pig fat was used in its shakes (answer: no).

The new U.S. videos have gotten hundreds of thousands of views, but whether that translates to improved sales and a larger millennial audience remains to be seen. But McDonald’s U.S. sales keep dropping, down 2.8% in August and 3.2% in July. Something needs to be done, and answering consumer questions and lifting the veil off the production process may help the company turn the tide.

Nevin Barich is the Food and Beverage Analyst for Industry Intelligence. Email him here or follow him on Twitter here.

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