One of McDonald’s most revered (and most parodied) recurring menu items is the McRib. Following a wildly successful tie-in with the 1994 live-action adaptation of The Flintstones, the rib-shaped pork sandwich has made occasional appearances on McDonald’s North American menu, and attracted a cult-like following. Most recently, a photo was shared on social media supposedly depicting the less-than-appetizing pre-cooked version of the McRib, and it generated significant controversy.
As part of its ongoing “Our Food, Your Questions” campaign, McDonald’s released a video titled “What Are McRib Patties Made Of?” and spared no expense in convincing consumers that its patties are the real deal.
Here’s why this video is so effective:
Sometimes Conflict is a Good Thing
The cornerstone of every good story is conflict – whether it’s good vs. evil, Alien vs. Predator, or social media versus the McRib. McDonald’s sets up the conflict in this video by introducing Wes Bellamy: teacher, HYPE Director, and self-proclaimed McRib hater. The video then follows a familiar pattern to McDonald’s other social content: Wes airs his grievances with the McRib, and staff members at Lopez Foods confront his concerns while giving him an insider look at their production facility. He ultimately recants his qualms, and ends up making his own McRib.
Structuring the video this way allows McDonald’s to confront negative tweets head-on, and set the record straight by having their employees demonstrate why their product is high-quality. From the motivation behind adding additional preservatives, to the rumour that McRib meat contains ground bones, Wes asks specific questions during the process, and is presented readily with specific, strategically-worded answers.
Apply This Tactic: If you’re interested in trying this strategy with your own content, customer interviews lend well to this format. Starting your interview by addressing specific concerns a client had with your product allows you to deftly confront possible objections from prospects in a way that they can relate. If your software product comes at a high price point, have one of your customers explain the dollar-for-dollar returns they see since implementing your solution. If people worry your product is made with low-quality meat, show them the boneless, specially selected cuts your plant really uses.
Pressing Play on Pop Culture
Grant Imahara is no stranger to inquisitive minds. As one of the co-stars of Mythbusters, Grant and his team built a loyal following by creatively addressing rumours, myths, and internet urban legends, either ‘busting’ the myths, or proving their plausibility. With that in mind, Grant is uniquely qualified to be the celebrity spokesperson for this initiative – McDonald’s wants to bust some myths about their food, and they’ve got just the person to do it.
Apply This Tactic: While your company may not be able to afford celebrity endorsement, the real value in Grant’s involvement lies in pop culture recognition. Anyone who loved Mythbusters knows who Grant is, and his presence immediately adds validity to a specific audience A more accessible way to play with pop culture is spoofing popular or nostalgic characters. Taulia does an excellent job of parodying Dos Equis in their video “The Most Interesting Man in AP“, and even we’ve paid homage to an office favourite, sending our marketing team back to the future with our Digital Experience Guide.
Going Behind the Scenes
The ability to “show” rather than “tell” is one of the biggest advantages video has, and showing customers a behind-the-scenes look into your day-to-day is an excellent example. In addition to telling the story of how your McRib goes from a healthy side of pork into the finished seasonal sandwich, McDonald’s also introduces you to the people responsible for maintaining the quality, and happy workers taking pride in what they do. It’s hard not to laugh along with the food inspector whose job involves eating lots of sandwiches.
Apply This Tactic: Content like this allows your prospects and customers to connect with your employees and your business on a personal level. Another great example of this is Google – their “Behind the Scenes with the Doodle Team” answers a question almost anyone who visits Google has asked at least once – “Who made today’s Google Doodle? It’s great!” If your team has employees with unique interests, specialized skills, or even just an interesting story about how they serve your customers, putting them on camera is a great way to add emotion to your marketing.
This isn’t McDonald’s first attempt at using video to dispel internet rumours. In addition to posting text-based answers on their site, McDonald’s has released over a dozen other behind the scenes videos, from “Is McDonald’s Beef Real”, to “Why Is a Burger So Cheap”. What makes the McRib video special is its timeliness.
In addition to contributing to an ongoing, scheduled campaign, the McRib video tackles this issue at a point when shares of the damaging photo are becoming more prevalent, and also in the months leading up to an eventual re-release of the sandwich. This allows McDonald’s two important benefits – it dispels negative rumours about an iconic product, and also builds pre-release excitement for the sandwich promotion. Whether you walk away from this video craving a McRib, or still skeptical of its quality, in 3 days Wes, Grant and the team at Lopez Foods have received over 1.2 million views on YouTube, and the campaign was featured on TIME.
As a marketer, what do you think of the video? Was Wes’ comparison of the McRib to his grandmother’s cooking too contrived, or did Lopez Foods actually dispel your McRib concerns? If you were sitting in the hot-seat after your product was mocked on social, how would you answer the question “What’s In Your McRib?”