It was a simple plan. McDonald’s would pay to appear at the top of the trends list on Twitter’s home page, using the social-media site to drive people to its new commercials highlighting some of the real-life farmers and ranchers who supply McDonald’s with its ingredients. Executives at the fast-food company loved the commercials; the word in-house was “authenticity.”
The spots, which were rolled out in January, transported viewers to down-home places like Warden, Wash., and Astoria, Ill., where gritty men wearing denim knelt in the soil or rode horses while talking about the sacrifices they made for the harvest or the herd and dispensing nuggets of plain-spoken wisdom about their worthy jobs. “Beef’s what we do,” one supplier said. “Good potato,” said another, examining a dirt-encrusted spud destined to end up as an order of French fries. McDonald’s wasn’t about fast food, the commercials suggested, but real food, born of the earth.