Is honesty really the best policy for your brand?

Most people will now be aware of the Jamie Oliver vs. McDonald’s ‘pink slime fall out’. The celebrity chef recently claimed victory over the fast food giant and its use of ammonium hydroxide solution to treat the meat in its burger patties, a practice it has since abandoned. The backdown can be interpreted as McDonald’s way of making improvements to the way it makes its food. Alternatively, it could just be a massive attempt to save face.

More than a year ago, McDonald’s Canada created a website that allowed customers to ask questions about the company and its products. McDonald’s aim was to alter customers’ preconceptions by being transparent about its processes. A YouTube video featuring Hope Bagozzi, McDonald’s Canada’s Director of Marketing, shows her answering a question posted by a young customer: “Why does your food look different in the advertising than what is in the store?”

Over three-and-half minutes, Bagozzi assures viewers that clever food styling is responsible for the dramatic difference in appearance between a burger made in-store compared to one photographed in a studio.

To most, it would seem obvious that styling, photography and retouching create more appealing versions of the real thing. But by breaking down what goes into photographing a burger, the process suddenly seems more credible and even acceptable. Having racked up more than nine million views since it was posted, it goes to show that a little bit of transparency and an open dialogue with your customers can go a long way.