CEOs of all companies are carefully watching the aftermath of one of the boldest-ever transparency plays: that initiated by McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson. Thompson recently threw open the doors of its food-production processes to the public with a new online platform and a new PR and TV-advertising campaign. Will it work for beleaguered McDonald’s? Could a deeper thrust into transparency work for other CEOs? And what might be the unintended consequences of Thompson’s strategy?
Thompson’s decision is a major new strategic prong for a company that has been struggling with everything from weak U.S. sales to a lack of significant new products to a global breakdown in its once-sterling reputation for customer service. Years after it launched smaller but similar transparency initiatives in Canada and Australia, McDonald’s is answering critics’ complaints by showing how its food is produced via a multi-pronged campaign, called “Our food. Your questions.”