Is McDonald’s’ Transparency Play a Worthy Template for Other Companies to Follow?

But give Thompson credit for finally pulling the trigger on this effort. And also for tasking his marketing people to address even the difficult questions they knew would be coming, in advance. For instance, on the campaign’s home page, McDonald’s admits that, while it doesn’t use “pink slime” in its products any longer, it does use “a small amount of an anti-foaming agent” in the oil used to cook McNuggets and does use beef that have been fed with hormones.

“Thompson gets credit for tasking his marketing people to address even the difficult questions they knew would be coming, in advance.”

McDonald’s also squarely addresses another food-ingredient controversy with the kind of logic that usually is sorely missing in these debates. The chemical azodicarbonamide is an ingredient in its buns and rolls, McDonald’s admits. And, yes, this is the same substance that also is included in some non-food products such as yoga mats.

“As a result,” the McDonald’s explanation reads, “some people have suggested our food contains rubber or plastic, or that the ingredient is unsafe. It’s simply not the case. Think of salt: the salt you use in your food at home is a variation of the salt you may use to de-ice your sidewalk.”

But in at least one case, a ridiculous bit of speculation seems beyond the pale even for a transparency-building campaign, and the chain treats it with the respect it deserves. “Does McDonald’s beef contain worms?” the brand asks itself online. The answer: “No. Gross! End of story.”

What is your policy on transparency? Please share your experience and your advice for other CEOs in the comments below.