March 13th, 2008

McDonald’s Mom Panel Makes TV Debut

By Amy Johannes
Promo

McDonald’s has once again turned to its stable of moms in a new forum to tell the world what they think of the brand.

The company’s Moms’ Quality Correspondents made a special appearance on iVillage’s “In the Loop” show Wednesday to talk about their experiences in the volunteer program.

A separate Webcast followed the show.

And so far, the panel is giving the company a thumbs up about the new things they are learning about the fast food giant.

Panelist Gilda McHenry, a mom of three from Downingtown, PA, said she was surprised to learn McDonald’s is the No. 1 purchaser of apples in country. Likewise, correspondent Joanna Canizares, a mom of two from Miami, FL, said she was satisfied to hear the chain uses the same “real food” she buys at the grocery store.

“We’re hoping to dispel a lot of our own misconceptions about McDonald’s food and helping consumers recognize that McDonald’s is really working to improve the menu,” Canizares said.

During the show, McDonald’s gave out $5 Arch cards and free samples of its Fruit and Walnut Salad to the audience. The effort marked the first time the panel appeared on a daytime talk show.

As part of their volunteer effort, the six-member panel goes behind-the-scenes to learn about the company’s menu items, food quality and nutritional information. They then share the details through online journals, videos and photos at http://www.McDonaldsMoms.com.

The panel is part of McDonald’s ongoing mission to build its brand and promote its commitment to serving quality food, the company said. McDonald’s formed the group in April 2007 to share details of its food preparation and help quell criticism about fast food and childhood obesity.

The company chose its team from more than 4,000 moms who applied. The finalists had to have at least one child at home under age 18, be concerned about food quality and serving balanced meals and be an occasional McDonald’s customer.

“We’ve always been focused on food quality,” said Susan Forsell, vice president, supply chain, quality systems for McDonald’s USA. “We know our customers, especially moms, are interested to learn more about [McDonald’s] and food safety.”

This year, the correspondents will visit a chicken supplier who is responsible for McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets, a potato supplier in Idaho, the Ronald McDonald House in Atlanta, a company nutritionist and McDonald’s Innovation Center.

In 2007, the panel visited a beef supplier and an apple orchard and produce supplier, among a stop at the company’s Oak Brook, IL, headquarters.

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