Our Foodie Friday Fun this week comes to us courtesy of the folks at McDonald’s. I happen to like fast food as much as the next person even if I rarely eat it anymore. It’s not a shock to anyone that fast food generally isn’t the optimal way to eat, even if it provides good value for the money. As the trend toward healthier eating has spread, companies such as McDonald’s have seen large sales declines. To their credit, McDonald’s has reversed that problem, mostly by serving their breakfast menu all day long.
The other way that McDonald’s has tried to fix the sales problem is by offering healthier menu choices, and that’s our subject today as well as our business point. While they’re still testing some of the new items in this country, in Canada they’ve rolled out a full line of salads featuring kale. After all, what screams “good food choice” more loudly than a salad, right? Unfortunately, the screaming hasn’t been very positive, as these articles demonstrate. In fact, when the CBC took a look at the nutrition contained in the new salads they found that:
Some of its nutrient-enhanced meals are actually comparable to junk food, say some health experts. One of McDonald’s new kale salads has more calories, fat, and sodium than a Double Big Mac.
They also found that the Fruit and Maple Oatmeal has close to the sugar in a can of Coke. Of course, it’s possible to remedy some of the problem by using less dressing on the salad (that’s where a lot of the calories and fat lie) or skipping McDonald’s completely. But that is neither the problem nor the business point. Those are about living up to the promises we make.
What McDonald’s is trying to do is to draw consumers in with the promise of a healthier food choice at a great value. The reality is that most consumers won’t realize that they’re better off eating a Big Mac. They hear “kale” and “salad” and assume they’re making a healthy choice. Is that false advertising? Not exactly, but it sure seems misleading. That is a big no-no is my book. Sure, they’re trying to be transparent – the nutritional information of all of their menu items is available – but why should consumers have to double-check? As marketers, we need to be sure that the messages we send are accurate, even if they’re subliminal. I think these salads fail that test. You?