Fast food tries new marketing approach, beef industry takes spotlight

From «McDreamy» swooners to smurf collectibles, McDonald’s has played a key role in pop culture since its 1955 Midwest beginning. Today, the golden-arched fast food mogul continues to follow societal trends through advertisements on traceability and a strong stance on sustainability.

The restaurant’s vice president for strategic sourcing, Francesca DeBiase, indicates that the transition from French fries to apple slices is a result of consumer preference analysis and a mentality switch at the company.

«We know that our customers care about where their food comes from,» she says. «McDonald’s and our suppliers have taken many positive steps in the past 20 years to improve the sustainability of our supply chain, and now we’re reaching even higher with our vision for sourcing all of our food and packaging from certified sustainable sources.»

The corporation backed their words on sustainability through their 2010 Sustainable Land Management Declaration. The document, published in conjunction with the company’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility Report, focused on the beef industry in two ways: 1. The restaurant management company will work with the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef to address business practices surrounding beef production; and 2. It is backing a three-year-long study to track and analyze the carbon emissions impact of 350 beef farms in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

McDonald’s most recently attempted to demonstrate their connection with their food ingredients through a series of firsthand producer advertisements. Released on their Facebook page to nearly 13 million followers, the brief advertorials were shared with a statement that the chain’s «commitment to quality food starts at the source.»

The goal of the series of films that highlight lettuce, potato and beef producers, says McDonald’s, is to allow consumers to «meet some of the hard-working people behind your McDonald’s favorites.»

The beef producer featured is a familiar face to the cattle industry. As a past president of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (NCBA), Steve Foglesong works in his Astoria, Ill. pasture-and with producers across the country-when not serving as a supplier spokesperson.

The video, viewable at, brings viewers into the life of the Midwest beef producer. Images of Foglesong working with his cattle show his connection to the land.

«This whole property was once a part of a coal mine,» Foglesong says in the film. «We took something that some people would have said was absolutely worthless and now we’ve got it producing food for people all around the world.»

The advertisement continues by illustrating the family mentality and experience needed to produce quality beef.

«My kids have been here and been in the cattle business since they were old enough to walk,» the producer explains. «We take a great deal of pride in what we do here: beef’s what we do. It’s not something that happens over night, it comes with experience, a lot of passion and occasionally getting your butt kicked. You get to be pretty good at it or you find something else to do.»

Though Foglesong concludes his testimonial by hinting at the quality standards mandated by McDonald’s, it’s the feelings of dedication and animal welfare that are the biggest win for the beef industry.

«You can’t get taste without good quality-there’s no way to cut corners on that,» Foglesong tells the national audience. «There’s no better job than the one that you never go to work and I don’t think I’ve ever gone to work a day in my life because I absolutely love it.»

With more than 64 million customers in 119 countries stopping at McDonald’s drive-thrus or visiting playlands daily, Foglesong’s story quickly made a splash. Though many viewers we’re ‘lovin’ it,’ some drew unintended messages from the content, indicating that the images shown were out of the ordinary for large scale beef production.

Ryan Goodman of Knoxville, Tenn. used the concerns as an opportunity to further share the story of beef production through his blog «Agriculture Proud» at

With firsthand experience at two of the nation’s largest feedlots (in Texas and Wyoming) as well as from his family’s beef operation in Arkansas, Goodman often relies on social media to spread the message that livestock are cared for-no matter the size of the operation.

His response to the McDonald’s advertisement came after reading comments that cattle often live in muddy areas and grown with antibiotics. Goodman indicates that the comments are far from reality and then takes the opportunity to break misconceptions about concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on his blog.

«Most cattle finished in CAFOs (feedlots) today are there an average of 120 days,» he writes. «Prior to the finish-feeding phase, these cattle are raised on grass. Most of the cattle herds in this country can be found on ranges of lush pasture during the growing season and fed stockpiled or stored forages during the winter.»

Goodman continues telling his often-urban audience about the quality pen conditions and animal health that are required to feed cattle to market weight. He notes that when antibiotics are used, veterinary oversight is often required and drugs are only used as needed.

«When we saw an increase in sickness in a particular group of cattle, we would look at how we could change our management (feeding, handling, conditions) to reduce that,» he explains. «An animal on medicine withdrawal never ever left the yard, so I can assure you the beef product would be safe from those feedlots.»

Reiterating Foglesong’s message portrayed through the McDonald’s ad, Goodman recognizes the growth of sustainability in beef production as well as the lasting connection between family and farming.

«Cattle production is very sustainable and we’ve been working hard to significantly reduce our resource consumption since 1977,» he blogs. «The McDonald’s ad is not misleading: that’s how cattle production looks today.»

Source / Fuente:

Author / Autor: Jeffrey Hoffelt

Date / Fecha: 26/01/12

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1 comentario en “Fast food tries new marketing approach, beef industry takes spotlight

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