Midwest and McDonald’s “Badvocacy”

I’m currently in Wisconsin spending time with family. I grew up in Wisconsin but have lived in Los Angeles for about 5 years now. It’s always a joy to go back during the Fall and see the leaves changing colors and feel the cool air. Just as some background, Wisconsin produces some of the best cheese and meat in the country. Home cooking and great food is part of the culture out here. While driving around town I stumbled across this billboard by McDonald’s:

IMG_4669(picture by Amy)

Here is a map of all the McDonald’s in Wisconsin.

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 7.09.59 PM(Picture from https://www.mccourtesy.com/content/home)

 

This ad really makes me think that McDonald’s is doing their part to get healthy food from local farmers. However McDonald’s doesn’t buy directly from the farmers because they are sourcing for Industrial food processing. This is a big problem because they are leading people to believe that McDonald’s food is part of a healthy lifestyle but it really is just the same old bad food. What are your thoughts on this kind of food marketing?

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8 Responses to Midwest and McDonald’s “Badvocacy”

  1. Matthew says:

    Amy,
    I can’t help but think the almighty dollar trumps everything. McDonald’s is appealing to people’s wallets, not their waistlines. By touting the company purchasing cheese, they do a pretty good job of appealing to Wisconsin’s sense of economy. Health and happiness are all find and dandy out in LA, but in the Rust Belt – where business has been hurting for years – supporting local farmers is more important than cutting calories.

  2. Xiaoxuan Fu says:

    Hi Amy, to me the point of this localization ad is not convincing people for healthier food in McDonald’s, but more about their contribution in stimulating local demand, and doing good for the environment (e.g. cutting transportation costs and reducing waste gas), which can set a good image and bring a sense of pride to the local people, and further attracts more consumers. 🙂

  3. Xiaoxuan Fu says:

    Hi Amy, to me the point of this localization ad is not convincing people for healthier food in McDonald’s, but more about their contribution in stimulating local demand, and doing good for the environment (e.g. cutting transportation costs and reducing waste gas), which can set a good image and bring a sense of pride to the local people, and further attract more consumers. 🙂

  4. Anamaria says:

    I think this is a smart move on McDonald’s part… until a journalist digs into the story. For all the reasons you mentioned, the campaign could backfire on McDonalds and make them look like greedy moguls instead of community supporters. From a PR perspective, given what you’ve told us about McDonald’s sourcing model, it seems to be a risky move to put the $$ on a billboard. They’re counting on the public taking them at face value. Dangerous in this world where everything is public domain.

  5. Kara says:

    Hi Amy,
    Wow, your photography skills are just amazing! I think this kind of PR is exactly why it was so hard for me to understand and appreciate what PR is about in the first place. I think McDonalds has some kind of corporate responsibility to the public, and especially to the people of Wisconsin! However, from a financial standpoint, McDonalds made the right move to increase it’s revenue. McDonalds is not known for the “healthy” food it has. If it was, this would have been a horrible PR disaster. Although my personal views on McDonalds still stick (McNEVER), I wonder what kind of results would occur if MD’s did take an interest in the local market. I’m sure it would improve relations, but we have to remember McDonalds is an international company. I can’t see Wisconsin making a large enough impact for change.

  6. Ashley says:

    I feel this type of marketing is sly and misleading. McDonald’s is trying to paint a pastoral picture of its company, but really the food doesn’t have the quality it’s aiming to show.

    This reminds me of the food industry documentary Food, Inc. It shows how smost consumers have skewed visions of their food sources. When we think of milk or meat products, most of us would like to picture a farm out there somewhere. When you see a Florida’s Natural bottle in the grocery store, you’d like to have a picture of an orange orchard in your mind. These images, however, is the brand marketing would like consumers to feel. In reality, meat and dairy farms today look more like factory assembly lines. I see what McDonald’s is trying to do here to appeal to the local culture of Wisconsin, but it’s really just a slick tactic.

  7. Laura says:

    Misleading and intentionally confusing advertising seems to go hand-in-hand with cheaply produced, low-nutrient foods. As someone who works for a health promotion company, at work I do a lot to try to reverse the misthruths that these companies spread in the name of advertising. For example, a popular candy called “Fruit Snacks” is simply a sugary treat infused with a few vitamins to mislead people into thinking they are healthy. In reality, the prduct is comparable to Starburst candy. In this case, McDonalds seems to be trying to make viewers think they use wholesome, locally produced Wisconson cheese on their products. That, of course, is not true. The more I learn about advertising, the less I like it. Who ever said it is OK to lie and mislead people in order to make money? It’s not OK.

  8. Melissa Ho says:

    Hi Amy,

    I am not going to lie. Mcdonald’s makes me so happy it’s unbelievable. While I do agree that it’s misleading, I think it’s pretty brilliant PR. It’s not false advertising, as I’m sure they do spend that much on cheese. And what’s smart is that they’re advertising in the cheese state. McDonald’s is basically telling people that they are advocates for the state and support what they do, albeit not directly. No one can argue that they will definitely get on peoples good graces and they are making a personal connection. It’s never OK to mislead people, but it’s not a false statement and there are companies that do a lot worse. Thanks for sharing!