Earlier this week, McDonald’s launched a seemingly boneheaded PR campaign to prove that its food isn’t responsible for the growing childhood obesity problem. As the Chicago Tribune reports, the company has invited six moms to take a “behind-the-scenes” look at its restaurants (it’s unclear whether that means all of its restaurants or just a select few) and some of the farms and manufacturing plants that supply them; these moms will then blog about their impressions (presumably using the laptops that the fast-food giant has given them). The blog entries will be posted on the chain’s home page in “unedited” form beginning June 20, but the participants are also free to share their thoughts on any food blog interested in hearing their commentary.
The six women were, of course, carefully culled from a group of 4,000 applicants, by an independent company that probably specializes in sniffing out folks who will toe the corporate line. Still, many analysts tell the Trib that the McD’s move is extremely risky. As a Chicago State University marketing professor puts it, “Nothing like this has ever been done using the Internet.”
Still, this professor acknowledges that the chain could score easy points just by showing these women that its food isn’t, you know, radioactive or full of rat droppings. And from the looks of one participant’s first entry (which will be posted next Wednesday), easy points are definitely the name of the game:
‘One of the most important things I learned is that McDonald’s prepares their food fresh, and I was told the food has a shelf life. So, if your local store is following the proper procedures, you shouldn’t be getting mushy Filet-O-Fish patties or dried-out hamburgers,’ [LaShawna] Fitzpatrick-Hughes wrote as part of her first journal entry that will post Wednesday.
‘I learned that there is a standard set in place at each restaurant across the country. I am curious if my local McDonald’s is following all the protocols. I can’t wait to find out.’
Me neither … of course, those protocols don’t include NOT slathering your food with high-fructose corn syrup or NOT nestling your moist, unmushy protein in a corn-syrupy bun—and that’s really where the nutritional trouble begins. I wonder how these “behind-the-scenes” tours will address stuff like calorie content, which is the main thing that nutritionists and moms tend to worry about these days when it comes to fast food.