McDonald's Promo, Case study GREEN EDUCATION by Hill & Knowlton

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Industry Fast food
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United Kingdom
Agency Hill & Knowlton
Designer Dag E Clausen
Released March 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Corporate Communication
Advertiser: McDONALD'S
Product/Service: McDONALD’S
Chief Executive Officer: Ole Tom Nomeland (H & K Strategies)
Director Of Public Affairs: Jan Ottesen (H & K Strategies)
Account Manager: Jarle Ramskjær (H & K Strategies)
Account Executive: Emilie Nordskar (H & K Strategies)
Account Executive: Leonard Muvule Kongshavn (H & K Strategies)
Designer: Dag E Clausen (H & K Strategies)
Media placement: Corporate Communications - NRK Evening News, Aftenposten, Nationen, VG, Finansavisen, ABC Nyheter, - 1st March 2011

Summary of the Campaign
McDonald’s in Norway suffered from a poor reputation and lacked support. Research documented low scores on important trust drivers, and McDonald’s was often targeted in health debates in the media. Despite several efforts, the trust drivers remained unchanged for several years.

The campaign goal was to improve McDonald’s reputation and position them as a positive corporate partner in Norway. To do this, McDonald’s had to improve public trust. Studies showed that food quality, and Norwegian ingredients, are key factors for increasing trust, and thereby increasing customer satisfaction and sales.

The strategy communicated a side to McDonald’s that already had high standing, namely its Norwegian ingredients. However, it was not well known and they relied on third party endorsement to communicate this message trustworthy. Thus, McDonald’s initiated a unique partnership with the Norwegian Rural Youth Association.

Together they introduced the Green Education campaign to recruit future farmers, and boost pride in the agricultural sector through the 'Young Farmer of the Year' competition. This foundation enabled an effective, integrated PR-campaign with support of marketing, digital and local recruitment activities.

McDonald’s tactics have proven successful and reversed a downward trend. Applicants for agricultural studies have increased by 18 percent, the campaign has generated more than 700 media stories, and the Minister of Agriculture and key stakeholders have endorsed the campaign. The perception of McDonald’s has improved across all important trust drivers, including food quality. The sales have increased by 10% annually, indicating that trust influences economic performance.

The Situation
McDonald’s in Norway had a poor reputation and lacked support with key opinion leaders. Research showed McDonald’s scored poorly on several important trust drivers, including food quality. Despite efforts, the trust drivers had been unchanged for several years. Health issues were highly debated in the public and McDonald’s was often targeted. It was an urgent need to tell their story and set the agenda. 80% of the food served at McDonald’s come from Norwegian farmers. The farmers have a high public recognition, but suffered from problems related to recruitment and image.

The Goal
The campaign goal was to improve McDonald's reputation in key areas such as food quality, as well as positioning them as a positive corporate partner in Norwegian society. Based on trust studies conducted by McDonald’s, trust drivers related to food quality were identified as the most important factors in improving their reputation amongst the Norwegian public, officials and key stakeholders. Improving McDonald’s overall score on key trust drivers was expected to have positive effects on customer satisfaction, preference and economic performance (sales).

The Strategy
The strategy was to communicate a side of McDonald’s that already had high standing among the Norwegian public, namely its use of Norwegian ingredients. McDonald’s had for almost 30 years purchased the majority of ingredients from national suppliers and today almost 80% of the ingredients used by the company in Norway come from Norwegian famers. According to studies, Norwegians regard locally produced products, such as beef, to be of very high quality.

However, McDonald’s depended on third parties to communicate this in a trustworthy manner. A central focus became the recruitment of young farmers into the agricultural industry. Without recruitment, the future of Norwegian farming is at stake, as was McDonald’s ability to purchase quality Norwegian products. This led to the establishment of a broad program focusing on trust drivers related to food quality, and an unique and effective partnership with the Norwegian Rural Youth Association (NRYA).

The main initiative of the quality program is the partnership between McDonald’s and NRYA is called Green Education. The campaign seeks to improve recruitment of farmers and boost pride in the agricultural sector, especially among future farmers, through a Young Farmer of the Year competition. The campaign was implemented in Norway in 2010 and is still ongoing.

McDonald’s combined this integrated campaign with strategic initiatives such as stakeholder programs to build support among politicians, academia, industry, and media. The campaign was also integrated with marketing and advertising campaigns.

McDonald’s and NRYA’s members are key to the campaign, using tray-liners and restaurants for events, and members as ambassadors. Based on surveys, a traditional PR-plan was laid out to increase attention to both initiatives. Competitions, Facebook and other tools were used to create buzz. Local media outlets were specifically targeted, and Nationen (a national daily) became a media partner in 2011.

Documented Results
The campaign has generated several quantifiable results since 2009:

Trust levels:
Since 2009, the perception of McDonald’s has been improved over 10% across all important trust drivers.

The campaign has been sponsored and endorsed by the Minister of Agriculture and Food, and has also established cooperation with key stakeholders including cabinet ministers, MPs, media, academic institutions and prominent NGOs.

Public attention:
The campaign has generated more than 700 media stories featuring McDonald’s. These include features and chronicles, and a Facebook campaign site witch weekly reach more than 130,000 people.

Increase in applicants:
Students applying for agricultural studies, increased by nearly 18% - the first increase in many years.

The sales at McDonald’s have increased by approximately 10% annually – indicating that improved trust has a positive influence on the economic performance.