I recently blogged about our waning love affair with McDonalds, asking if the affair was over due to the slide in sales at the popular food chain, particularly in the US. (See'' McDONALD'S - Is Our Love Over?'' on 30 July 2014)

Well now I read that McDonald's has launched a US campaign to both halt the falling sales and to address a number of "urban myths", such as why its burgers apparently never rot. The world's biggest hamburger chain allowed cameras into its Fresno, California factory in an effort to confront unappetising questions and beat back perceptions that it serves ''Frankenfood''.

For its latest campaign, McDonald's addresses widely circulated online images and videos that show its burgers staying intact after several weeks or even years. On its webpage, McDonald's says that is likely to be because the food has dehydrated, and that food needs moisture to form mould. The company's responses to other questions such as "Does McDonald's beef contain worms?" are more direct: "No. Gross! End of story."

A video posted on the company's home page also showed Grant Imahara, a former host of the US TV show "Mythbusters," touring a Cargill beef plant where McDonald's patties are made. "Are there lips and eyeballs in there, Jimmy?" Imahara asks a plant supervisor, who explains that the patties only have beef trimmings. Another guide says the patties do not contain lean finely textured beef, an ingredient widely referred to as "pink slime" that became the subject of controversy a few years ago. McDonald's stopped using the ingredient about three years ago.

The company has run similar campaigns in Canada and Australia in the past. The push comes as McDonald's fights to boost its performance in the US, where sales slid 1.5 percent at established locations in the most recent quarter, following a 0.2 percent dip for last year. In addition to increased competition, McDonald's is trying to keep up with changing tastes, with places such as Chipotle and Five Guys marketing their food as more wholesome alternatives.  To improve the image of its food, McDonald's plans to let people opt for salad or vegetables in their value meals instead of chips.

National television advertisements began airing in the US last week, letting people know about the push. McDonald's says people can submit questions via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Laura Ries, a marketing consultant based in Atlanta, noted McDonald's risks bringing up unappetising thoughts some people may never have heard about."I didn't know people thought there were worms in its beef, or that they didn't use real chicken," Ries said. Still, she agreed that companies have to be more responsive to questions from customers, especially at a time when people can amplify their concerns and criticisms to bigger audiences on social media.

The UK awaits its McDonald's Meat Myths campaign!


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