The McDonald’s brand has never been analogous to a healthy option. We have seen case studies such as Super Size Me drive consumers away, unveiling the consequences of a deep-fried and salt-infused meal. The vast amount of negative feedback and inquisitions alone that McDonald’s receives reveal the skepticism of its potential and current clientele.
So we are not surprised to see them fighting back.
A week ago, McDonald’s Australia premiered a short film, entitled TrackMyMacca’s, introducing a new iPhone app that allows buyers to track the integrity of their meals. That’s right. It is more than enumerating calories and a step bigger than including oatmeal in the menu. This is personalization. This is trust, ease and comfort.
The app is simple. It employs the GPS of your smartphone to pinpoint your exact McDonald’s location, image recognition software to visualize what you have purchased, and the date and time to track your ingredients—in real time. Accessing McDonald’s infinite database, the app digs around for the exact origins of YOUR ingredients (they are yours now) and then displays them for you in a playful, 3D augmented farm reality. All you have to do is click on an ingredient (be it buns, fish, beef, or veggies) and all the production information is unfolded. And that’s not all. It seems that you can even meet those farmers, fishermen and bakers that supplied your meal—and by meet, I obviously mean in a digital, read-everything-about-them kind of way.
The Aussies are not the first to attempt a transformation like this. McDonald’s has been battling their unfavorable image for many years now; in October of last year, for example, McDonald’s Canada released a video regarding the wholesomeness of their renowned fries. But are these efforts enough?
In the American fast foodscape they would not be. U.S. opinions concerning McDonald’s are either black or white—people love it or they hate it—with little gray matter in-between. I believe that an American version of TrackMyMacca’s would not be able to satisfy consumers that have already sworn their loyalties to what they presume to be “healthier” brands. McDonald’s emits an extremely happy tone, so when consumers discovered less-than-nutritional details they probably felt misled. And the fact that McDonald’s is strongly linked to kids is also a bit of a disadvantage; indeed, the brand lost loyalty when it was targeted as an amplifier of U.S. child obesity rates.
However, it is possible that this is not the case in Australia. There might be a larger span of gray matter in public option or the logo may not be as tainted as it is within U.S. borders. There is a possibility that newcomers (and their parents) or those who only dipped into the McPool every once in a while will be convinced and assuaged by the app. After all, it is made for you—for your meal, your benefit and your satisfaction.