Marketers must own the truth to win more customers

Marketers must own the truth to win more customers
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Authenticity and honesty is the secret to successful marketing campaigns, according to McDonald’s Canada’s marketing lead.

Joel Yashinsky said his company’s ‘Our food, your questions’ campaign has transformed the brand’s perception amongst ‘fence-sitters’ in Canada.

He said there are three categories of McDonald’s consumers: the McDonald’s lovers (who, he said, account for about 10% of people), the fence-sitters who will eat McDonald’s from time to time but aren’t sure about it, and the haters.

Visiting Sydney for the ADMA Forum, Yashinsky (left) said: “We want the skeptics to become believers, so we needed to take a bold approach to address the opportunities with the fence-sitters. We knew we had to do something a bit different because there were conversations taking place in the digital world that we were not part of that were impacting our brand and our business.”

The ‘Our food, your questions’ campaign, created with Tribal DDB, enabled Canadians to ask McDonald’s any question they liked – and McDonald’s vowed to answer every single one.

 “Our insight was the people want to know more about what they are eating than ever before,” said Yashinsky. “And we were not doing a good job in engaging consumers to learn more about our food.”

A platform for people to ask questions was created. “One of the keys to the campaign’s success was that we amplified answers to get more and more people engaged,” explained Yashinsky.

Consumers had to ask their questions through Facebook and Twitter, so all their friends and followers also saw the question and answer.

McDonald’s also used short videos to answer some questions, including ‘why do your burgers look different in the ads?’. They showed consumers how they craft a burger for an ad, pulling all the ingredients to the front to show what’s inside, admitting that they airbrush it to make it look perfect – but showing that they use the exact same ingredients.

To date, 18,462 questions have been answered.

“Our answers had to be legitimate and 100% accurate,” said Yashinsky. “Being honest and transparent was the key to the success – and we were comfortable with that, because we knew the answers. The whole campaign was authentic and true, and that’s what consumers need.”

As a result of the campaign, people’s perceptions of McDonald’s food quality improved, with 46% now thinking the food is good quality, compared to 30% prior to the campaign.

Yashinsky shared his tips for marketers: “Own the truth. Be fully transparent with your consumers. For us, being open and vulnerable was extremely well received.”

He confirmed the ‘Our food, your questions’ campaign will continue: “We are looking at the continuation of the program forever. It will continue to evolve and impact the brand. Consumers have learnt a lot about our brand, but we have learnt even more about our consumers and what they want.” 

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