McDonald’s wanted to create a campaign that would help improve perceptions of its food quality in Australia. As much as they liked the brand, Australian mums and dads still felt as though they would be labeled bad parents if they took their kids there. The brand needed a big idea that went beyond advertising to dispel the myths about McDonald’s. It was important to show people the origins of their food and get McDonald’s back on the menu of Aussie mums and dads.
The key challenges were to dispel myths about the brand and increase brand perception scores on ‘quality of food’. McD’s also needed to generate positive PR for the brand if it was to get people in its outlets.
Through qualitative research the brand discovered that the trust McDonald’s delivered through reliability and childhood nostalgia was heavily outweighed by concerns brought on by changing consumer attitudes to health and people wanting to know the origins of their food.
This posed a problem for McDonald’s who was still struggling to shake the ‘processed’ urban myths that had chased the brand for years.
A traditional advertising solution wasn’t going to cut it. Trust in advertising had hit an all time low with a massive 53% of people saying they did not trust TV ads.
Clearly, McD’s wanted to do more than simply improve brand perception scores – it wanted to reframe the whole debate around fast food.
Introducing, McDonald’s Gets Grilled: the brand came up with the world’s first independently produced McDonald’s documentary. The 60-minute independently produced show gave six members of the public an all-access pass to McDonald’s; every part of the process from paddock to the plate was investigated and allowed them to raise questions along the way.
This included visiting McDonald’s suppliers and stores to learn about how the products were sourced, prepared and served.
The six recruits were sourced by the production company (with no input from McDonald’s) and featured a range of people, whose views on the brand ranged from loving it to hating it, including one man who hadn’t eaten a Big Macs in 20 years.
With no media or sponsorship spend but a documentary idea it knew would captivate the nation, the Seven Network agreed to run the program in the prime 9.30pm time-slot marking a first in Australian free-to-air television.
Instead of a TVC, billboards, ads in lifestyle magazines or branded vignettes McD’s pitched the one format it knew would deliver an honest opinion about the brand and ultimately help improve perceptions. To protect the credibility of the content, McDonald’s relinquished full editorial control to local independent production company WTFN.
Knowing the show would create even more questions about the brand and the food, McD’s helped facilitate and answer these queries with McDonald’s chief executive Catriona Noble being available during and after the show on Facebook and on a dedicated Q&A page on McDonald’s website.
The McDonald’s Gets Grilled documentary became one of the most talked about shows of the year with over 1,000 pieces of PR across both national and international news outlets, which equated to over 15 million PR impressions.
This included a dedicated 10-minute news piece within the ABC Media Watch programme.
The show itself won its timeslot, against some stiff competition, with over 1 million Australians tuning in across the 60 minutes. This put the shows media value at $4.2m.
There were thousands of online conversations in the week prior to the show airing with 92% of all comments positive or balanced. The PR and social value alone reached a massive $1.2m. Most significantly McDonald’s quality food and freshness scores were at a 2-year high.