Best communications by private sector organisation 2014 Article icon


McDonald’s UK

Agency: Blue Rubicon

Over the past decade, McDonald’s UK has worked hard to overturn negative perceptions about its business, but the horsemeat scandal led to the first dip in customer trust in many years as consumers mistakenly believed the restaurant chain’s supply chain had been affected.

McDonald’s UK needed to address this misunderstanding while, at the same time, busting myths and building confidence in its food supply chain. It also took the opportunity to celebrate the positive contribution made by McDonald’s using a multi-channel approach to tell stories focusing on its strengths, such as food sourcing and community initiatives.

The restaurant chain launched Quality Scouts in summer 2013, fronted by former England rugby star, Celebrity Masterchef and farmer Phil Vickery. More than 1,700 applications were received from potential quality scouts, keen to explore behind the scenes at McDonald’s to find out how products are sourced and made.

Those chosen, which included influential bloggers with an interest in food and farming, told the stories of their visits via blogs, media interviews and social media channels. The campaign was also amplified by McDonald’s UK’s first live Facebook Q&A, which received 333 questions and was seen by more than 54,000 fans, and a live Twitter chat with the UK’s largest online farming community #AgriChatUK. It was the first campaign launched by McDonald’s UK not to have advertising support.

Free Fruit Fridays were launched in March to encourage children to get their ‘five-a-day’ by offering a free bag of fruit with every Happy Meal on the first Friday of each month. The launch was accompanied by research revealing parents’ top five-a-day challenges, and offering ideas and inspiration to make it fun.

McDonald’s also used its 40th anniversary to quantify the positive impact it has made since opening in the UK, including an annual £2.5 billion contribution to the economy, which was highlighted through an in-depth 29 page report Serving the UK, and an interactive website that generated regional infographics.

The chain also announced plans to create 8,000 jobs over the next three years, which received the backing of Chancellor George Osborne, turning its economic contribution into national news.

In total, the three initiatives generated more than 500 pieces of coverage and drove more than 2,300 social media interactions. McDonald’s UK was also cited as an example of good industry practice in the interim Elliott Review into food integrity and assurance.

The judges said the initiatives had ‘restored trust’ in McDonald’s UK, which had adopted a ‘bold approach’. ‘It did what it set out to achieve,’ they added.