Inside McAccess

The inspired decision of McDonald’s to be forthright in establishing consumer confidence in its products has been taken to a new level in the US. Six mothers have been given inside access to the company’s operations and have been reporting their views online at mcdonaldsmom.com. The women, aged between 35 and 42 and with at least one child at home, are chronicling their experiences via videos and an online journal (not blogging as there is no interaction possible). The participants were selected from 4000 applicants and must have been at least occasional McDonald’s customers. P&C visited the site in the early stages and was not surprised that the mothers were reporting positive experiences about the commitment of Macca’s to quality, hygiene, health and so on.

It’s a nice concept on the surface, but despite being a big fan of the company’s proactive marketing approach of late, I just don’t see how it gets much of a win out of this particular idea. The site clearly indicates that the views expressed are solely those of the mothers, but some cynics may think that giving inside access to people who are customers could lead to rose-coloured views. On the other hand, if the participants do get critical, it could turn into a PR nightmare. As much as they are keen to reassure mothers, who are the gatekeepers to children’s nutritional choices, a better idea might have been to take six mothers, who rarely or never go to McDonald’s, behind the scenes. The revelation of the company’s standards and processes to this group, and their reaction, would make a compelling story.

Bloody hell

How disappointing to open a copy of The Guardian international edition at Zurich Airport recently and see the ‘Where the bloody hell are you?’ tourism campaign ad. The campaign isn’t one of P&C’s favourites. Not because of the use of the word ‘bloody’, but simply because the campaign does little to inspire action; and restates the obvious images (kangaroos, beaches, harbour bridge, Uluru etc.). Here’s a tip; the world already gets all that. They know we are big, friendly, warm and laidback. And everyone I meet on my travels seems to have a dream to come here. What they also think is that we are a million miles away, they are going to get eaten by a crocodile and that they could never afford such a trip.

It’s time our tourism campaigns moved past the brand awareness and brand attitude stages and focused on purchase intention. We should be running major campaigns letting the world know that we are not really that far away and that relatively speaking we are not that expensive (I am happy for the crocodile eating belief to continue). Sure up to 20 hours of flying is quite a journey, but if visitors are lucky enough to be flying Singapore or Emirates Airlines the holiday begins the minute you step on board. With the cost of airline travel falling in real terms and our hotels among the most affordable in the world, cost is nowhere near the factor it once was. Hopefully our next major campaign will spend more time emphasising these points. One thing we have got right at the moment is the website. If you haven’t seen it, australia.com with its interactive map design, is outstanding.

Apple of my I

I think I want one. I think I do. The much-hyped, ultra-cool, super-sleek Apple iPhone has been launched in the US and the talk has not been of whether the product will be a hit (it will), but whether it will become a modern product icon. It’s a testament to how marketing savvy our world has become that people are focusing more on whether the mini-computer (it is more computer than phone) will replicate the iPod in ubiquitous life-changing success, or merely be a nice gadget that takes its place amongst the myriad other communication tools. I think that while the iPhone is a fantastic product with many great features, not the least of which is the touch sensitive screen, its release model limitations may be too much to really crack the market wide open just yet. There is no memory card slot, which seems a strange omission. There is a camera (albeit just two megapixels) and it doesn’t do video.

Entering text is apparently not so easy and the built-in web browser can’t as yet handle Java or Flash, which puts a dent in the number of websites you can fully experience. And if you need a new battery you have to send the phone to Apple for a replacement. The good news is that the iPhone software can be easily updated and, like the first iPods, which now seem practically ancient, you just know Apple will be releasing new generations of the product that will dazzle and delight. I suspect by the time we get to the third generation of iPhone, it may just be the only gadget worth carrying.