McDonald's features farmers and ranchers in 2012 campaign

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, January 4, 2012 -McDonald's is featuring farmers and ranchers in its 2012 advertising campaign in an effort to promote local sourcing from family operations. The three “Supplier Stories” now in circulation feature a potato farmer from Warden, Wash., a beef cattle producer from Astoria, Ill., and a lettuce farmer from Salinas Valley, Calif. The world's largest fast food chain aired its first nationwide commercial of the campaign on Jan. 2.

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“We know people are more conscious about what they're eating,” said McDonald's U.S. Communications manager, Ashlee Yingling. “We struggle with perceptions about where our food comes from, but our food is the same food you see at the grocery store.”

The national campaign will be seen on television, in print and online sporadically throughout the year, said Yingling. She added that the corporation is considering additional commercials to highlight other types of McDonald's suppliers.

“We rely heavily on the quality products of our farmers and growers to provide the best quality product to our consumers,” said vice president of McDonald's Midwest Region, Debbie Roberts, while speaking at the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation's 94th annual convention. “We will bring to the consumer the folks who are actually producing the product.”

Each commercial features an individual producer whose product is used in the McDonald's menu.

“Most everything we put into these cattle either comes from this ranch or somewhere local,” said McDonald's beef producer and Black Gold Cattle Co. operator Steve Foglesong in his commercial.  “You can't get taste without good quality; there's no way to cut corners on that.”

The timing for this campaign is partly a result of McDonald's listening tours, where the company learned that customers are becoming more concerned about what they feed themselves and their families and more educated about food products, said Yingling.

Highlighting the sources of their products may be especially timely for the company after the release of a controversial video from the Mercy for Animals activist group. Undercover workers at Sparboe Farms, a former McDonald's egg supplier through a subcontract with Cargill, recorded cruel chicken treatment. McDonald's and Cargill reportedly dropped the company as a supplier in November.

The new 2012 advertising campaign displays a starkly different view of McDonald's product suppliers. The producers in each of the three current advertisements emphasize freshness and quality complete with video panoramas of healthy farmland.

“Farmers are stewards of the land and we know how to take care of this resource better than anyone,” said McDonald's lettuce producer Dirk Giannini. “We're very proud of raising the freshest produce in the nation. It's a shame that people take for granted all the hard work and energy and resources it takes to produce lettuce.”

Yingling said the producers will be featured during national programming, including football games and television programs, throughout this month and again later this year. The campaign is featured strictly in the United States, where McDonald's has 14,000 restaurants and serves approximately 26 million people per day.



Original story printed in January 4, 2012 Agri-Pulse Newsletter.

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