As you may remember, McDonald's announced in September a partnership with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, to increase customers' access to fruit and vegetables and promote these healthier options to help families and children to make informed dining choices. In keeping with this commitment, the fast-food giant attempted to do the same for its employees earlier this month by pointing out the difference between items such as a burger and fries and “healthier options,” apparently missing the irony of the situation.
According to CNBC, a post on McDonald’s employee resource site, which was finally taken down last week after intense scrutiny, read: "Fast foods are quick, reasonably priced, and readily available alternatives to home cooking. While convenient and economical for a busy lifestyle, fast foods are typically high in calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and salt and may put people at risk for becoming overweight."
The nutrition advice, along with tips including how much one should tip pool cleaners and housekeepers, followed similarly out-of-touch financial advice published in July: The McResource Site outlined a sample monthly budget for employees that didn’t account for food and gas and included income from a second job, which seemed to acknowledge that McDonald’s wages alone don’t provide a sufficient living wage – let alone enough to pay a housekeeper (In fact, CNN reports a recent study found that more than half of families of fast-food workers receive public assistance from programs such as food stamps).
In a statement on its own website, McDonald’s acknowledged that it has taken down the resource site.
Have you validated your brand's sustainability claims?
Join us as representatives from Quantis, Johnson & Johnson and Unilever discuss pitfalls and recommended practices for communicating scientific claims on product packaging, as well as in any and all marketing, advertising and public relations activities — October 19 at SB'21 San Diego.
“A combination of factors has led us to re-evaluate and we’ve directed the vendor to take down the website,” the company said. “Between links to irrelevant or outdated information, along with outside groups taking elements out of context, this created unwarranted scrutiny and inappropriate commentary. None of this helps our McDonald’s team members.” Indeed.
McDonald’s isn’t the only global company to incur a backlash this year after encouraging healthier lifestyles and nutrition options for its customers: Coca-Cola’s ill-fated “Coming Together” campaign promoted the company’s healthier beverages along with the importance of active lifestyles, but critics railed against its assertion that calories are the same regardless of the source.
Can companies such as Coke and McDonald’s deliver on their bold commitments to encourage healthier lifestyles without fundamentally changing their core offering? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.