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Wednesday
Jun222011

McDonald's Canada's All-Access Moms



Have you heard about the partnership between McDonald's Canada and CityLine (a Canadian daytime television show targeted at women)?  They are working together to provide a FABULOUS opportunity for Canadian mom bloggers called McDonald's All-Access Moms, where real moms get to "go behind the Golden Arches."

Apparently all the cool mom bloggers in Canada got an e-mail encouraging them to apply for the program. I guess mine got lost in the mail somewhere (probably the postal strike or something). The e-mail said that the program is "designed specifically for moms who are interested in finding out the truth behind the rumours at McDonald's." I wonder which rumours those are? Like the rumours about which cashier is sleeping with which deep fryer operator?

It turns out this isn't just a little conference call with a gift card attached. This opportunity, like some others I've written about before, involves travel and behind the scenes access:
The McDonald’s All-Access Moms program will select three Canadian mommy bloggers to go on four trips across the country.  Together, we will visit supplier facilities and restaurants and you’ll have the chance to ask all the tough questions –so you can find out for yourself, what is really in McDonald’s food.  At the same time, we would ask you to blog openly and honestly about your experience.

CityLine camera crews and parenting expert Nanny Robina will also be on the trips, capturing all the action, as there is nothing to hide!

The program will kick off with a trip to corporate headquarters in Toronto and then a visit to the Innovation Centre and test kitchen in Chicago – this July!  Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions at all, I’d be happy to provide some more details.

There is one hitch. The program is not eligible to residents of the province of Quebec, so I can't apply (update: apparently moms in Quebec can apply, but there is a separate French website for them). But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to put together a little video, like the real applicants will be doing, to tell McDonald's and CityLine why I want to be a McDonald's All-Access Mom (if the video doesn't display or doesn't work for you, you can access it here on YouTube).



To those who do apply, I wish you safe travels and enjoyable doublespeak. Maybe you can keep a cheeseburger from the tour to show to your grandchildren one day.

CityLine is right about one thing: Mom Knows Best. That's why this mom will keep teaching her kids about the dark side of companies like McDonald's instead of lining up to be part of their multi-billion dollar marketing machine.
« Leftover Cereal Chocolate Chip Cookies | Main | Go The F**k To Sleep: Funny or Offensive? »

Reader Comments (94)

LOVE this!!!! Nicely done!

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKim Corrigan-Oliver

Love it, Annie!

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Duff

I wonder how many of the mommy bloggers they select will have submitted applications like that. Good for you.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNeeroc

I loved that video!

You're the kind of mom that McD's really should be taking on their all-access tour. I somehow doubt they could handle you, though.

I LOVED your video and I am hoping you are submitting it. So very well done.
This whole thing is such a joke.
What a shame.

Great post!

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Keon

First off, I love the video and wish they would invite moms like you (living in Quebec or not!) who actually do want to ask the hard questions. If they say all-access, it should BE all access and not a cynical marketing ploy. (This from someone who *gasp* occasionally eats at McDonald's but hypocritically doesn't want her daughter to eat there for a long, long, long time... if ever). :P

That said... the reason McDonald's burgers don't decay apparently has nothing to do with any kind of nefarious preservative. Apparently, it's their high fat content! (Perhaps no less nefarious): "By testing a McDonald’s burger against ones made with store-bought buns and natural, home-ground beef patties, [food website] Serious Eats discovered that after at least 25 days in open air, neither the fast food-chain burger nor the home-made burgers rotted. One of the home-made burgers contained zero salt, and that didn’t rot either, indicating high salt levels are not to blame. Serious Eats also tested two other burgers – a McDonald’s burger and another homemade burger – by putting them side by side in plastic zipper-lock bags that would trap in the moisture necessary for bacteria and mould spores to grow. Within a week, both burgers were covered in white fuzzy mould.

Its summary? McDonald’s burgers don’t decompose because they’re small and have a fairly large surface area, which allows them to dehydrate quickly before mold and bacteria can grow. Kind of like making beef jerky. It also helps that the meat starts off nearly sterile due to the high cooking temperature." (From The Globe and Mail, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/the-mcdonalds-burger-wont-destruct-heres-why/article1787309/)

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnemone

This is what I posted to their FB page:

Dear CityLine,

Being a real mom does not entail "getting behind the Golden Arches". In fact, being a real mom mom means not exposing you children to the foods that our driving our population into complete physical disarray. Being a real mom means giving my children the tools to get beyond the horrible marketing schemes, and getting back to the basics with food.

Regards,
Shantelle

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShantelle

I will watch your video later, as I can't access it (with sound) here at work. I am going to apply. Probably won't get chosen, but I'll apply. And if I do get chosen, I promise to ask all the important questions and be completely honest. :)

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLoukia

Loukia:

The sound isn't necessary to watch the video. It is just a song that I chose to go with it.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

What about the bread? Why doesn't it get covered in mould?

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

What a very weird thing for Cityline to be involved with...

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Oddly enough, my invitation was also lost somewhere before it made it into my inbox. I, for one, take that as a compliment. ;)

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

FWIW, we haven't eaten at McD's since Fast Food Nation.

I didn't think for a second that I'd be invited to this kind of event. McDonald's hates - and fears - people like you and me (although I didn't think to make a video like you did! Bravo!).

I did have a moment when I thought it would be an interesting event to attend. I would like to be a fly on the wall and see what kind of PR-spiel they give the moms, who will undoubtedly tweet and retweet all the tripe they are fed. And no matter where they stand it will make McD's look like they're being a good corporate citizen with their apple slices and oatmeal for breakfast. Ugh.

I have a bad taste in my mouth regarding Cityline and an email exchange with one of their producers who used me (I will admit to be a fool) and I have no love for McDonalds, so I'm not planning on giving this program any serious thought.

However, I must not be a blogger of consequence in the Canadian world either, since I didn't receive the pitch.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRedneck Mommy

I detest the "healthy choices" McDonald's commercials. I admit I have occassionally let my kids eat at McDonald's but I know that it is more about not listening to them complain about being hungry in the car (on a long trip, say) then about giving them anything healthy. I don't care if they offer apples and chocolate milk or white milk. Even if your child chooses those the burger or chicken nuggets are still junk! Oh and the apples come with caramel sauce to dip them in - JUNK!

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterUpstatemamma

Good question! Possibly because of the conditions? I mean, when I accidentally leave a piece of toast or a bun out, it just dries out -- it doesn't get moldy. I don't know if this holds true at all times of year because I try not to be that forgetful that often, so it's admittedly unscientific... however, I've only ever seen my bread go moldy if kept in a plastic bag, probably because it traps the moisture. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if McDonald's buns last longer in a plastic bag than other breads, and I wouldn't be surprised if they were full of preservatives, like a lot of the cheaper store-bought breads. I always keep my quality breads in the freezer because they just don't last long enough for me to eat them otherwise...

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnemone

[...] unwittingly selected someone with strong critical thinking skills for this program. (Via Simon.) Link Spread the [...]

This is a wonderful post. I hadn't heard about the McD's promotion because I live somewhat south of you (like Kansas, USA). I'm glad that there are so many women who aren't "buying" it.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJohanna B

Real Moms feed their kids REAL food. It's just that simple. Real, fresh food takes just as long to prepare as a trip to McRaunchy's. Sadly, many rely on the media machine to tell them what to believe. I wish there was a law against directing marketing towards children here in BC.
Thoroughly wonderful video btw!!
Had a question about the fries - I think the fats must also be what keeps them yellow/golden with age since potatoes turn blue then black with age. My only problem with that is fat goes rancid over time - apparently McDonald's fats don't?

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnne-Marie

No pitch for me either, go figure. I have no idea why any mother would ever chose to be involved with this, for real.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkarengreeners

I've been thinking about this since this morning, and I think McDonald's food audience can be divided thusly:

1) People who don't know what's in the food, how it is made, or anything about McDonald's marketing and business practices. And they will never know.
2) People who know that something is up, yet they maintain a state of denial because they go there regularly (either because they like the taste, it's their comfort food, it's cheap etc) and can't face the truth.
3) People who know, and go there sometimes as a treat.
4) People who know, and never ever cross the threshold.

Care to set up a poll? I'd be curious to see how your readers fit into these categories.

Yup, it has primarily to do with moisture content. Their food is highly processed and altered, but these "[1, 5, 10] year old undecomposed burger!" pictures don't actually indicate that at all. It's a strange phenomenon, but not exclusive to McD's or even "junk" food at all.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArwyn

How about 5) It's cheap, fast, and what's available in their neighbourhood? In far too many places, there's a McD's on every corner, and not a single fresh veggie seller to be found. Or the "alternative" would cost 2-5 times as much, thus pricing out a lot of families. I can afford to go to my locally-owned, locally-sourced burger joint (and I'm privileged to live in an area where such exists at all) for food that's far less processed than McDonald's (real cheese! no HFCS!), but it costs me upwards of $12 for cheeseburger, fries, and a (real strawberry, real ice cream) shake, whereas the equivalent meal at McD's would be, what, $4? $5? That's not an insignificant amount, especially if one is trying to feed a family, not just treat themselves.

I am in *no way* a McDonald's supporter, but what most horrifies me about the whole situation isn't the middle class family who goes there occasionally for a "treat", but the lower class family for whom it's a reasonable caloric value for their more limited resources (money, time, and energy). *They're* the ones for whom I want to see farm subsidies be reallocated, McD's more regulated, and viable, healthier, *affordable* alternatives supported.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArwyn

When I posted the poll to facebook, I changed #3 to read treat/last resort.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Brilliantly done, as always.
I want to know who the judging panel is that will select the mommy bloggers, oddly, Cityline and McDonald's have not answered any of my request or tweets.

Please tweet - #Realmoms do not accept #Healthwashing @CitylineCa and @McD_Canada!

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Borden

THIS is the bigger issue. Fast food places like McDonalds would be far less successful if the healthier choices were attainable on a tight budget. Yes, I can get much cheaper produce in chinatown but that's out here where I live. Not everyone has that kind of access. If the good stuff were more readily available, and affordable - people would generally chose it over the crap. Unfortunately, farming is far from free or even cheap. Get support networks for local farmers / community co-ops/farms going and you might see the start of healthy change. If you don't start at the root of the issue (pardon the farming pun ;) nothing will get properly solved.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnne-Marie

Arwyn:

Interestingly, when we lived in Germany (where farms are heavily subsidized), I only spent about half as much on groceries (if that), but the price of going to McDonald's was ridiculously high (one of the reasons we opted not to go there). There were other cheap fast food options (pizza, donairs, etc.), but the big chain fast food was expensive compared to real food.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Oh that it were so everywhere!

I don't think the problem in the US (I don't know about Canada) is farm subsidies per se, but the specifics of the subsidies. We spend waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much on, for example, corn and soy, making them, and thus highly processed food-stuffs made from them such as HFCS, way too cheap and profitable to rely on, but don't subsidize at all foods that are far better for us. And the profit model means that big, corporate farms want to grow only that which is subsidized and can be repacked into food-esque things that can be used as additives to zillions of other foods.

In that context, McDonald's makes perfect sense. As you said, it all comes down to profit.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterArwyn

Glad I'm not the only one who saw an issue with this. Very well said and I especially love video

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRoxanne

I smirked when i heard about the "moms all access pass" for mcdonalds - reminds me of that campaign a few months ago with the high fructose corn syrup promotion fiasco.

I dont know why they are trying to change their image or whatever they hope to achieve with this new promotion. People know it's bad for you, right? the issue is it is everywhere, it is crazy cheap and more affordable unfortunately then healthy natural foods. Why are they trying to change their stripes? even their "healthy options'' are riddled with salt and fat. & i totally agree with Arwyn - if they had actual healthy options at a decent price or society decides to switch it up like in Germany (like you said Annie being cheaper for real food) it would be so much better!

great video! and i am always shocked there is a mom anywhere willing to promote mcd's, but i also feel that way about disney so i know i am totally not the norm.

I have had McD's french fries in my classroom since 2004. My sophomore Biology class that bought them graduated from college last year. They survived being packed and moved from our old building to our new building. The parents love to stop by and visit the fries, and kids come back to check on them.

Your video is awesome, and I'd love it if you were picked to get the iinside scoop on McDonald's!

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAbbie

True, but I think some real moms who would like to feed their kids real food can't afford the fresh stuff. Maybe not here in BC, but in other parts of Canada where most fresh stuff has to come in from elsewhere. I'm not saying that McDonald's is the alternative, but just that sometimes it's the cost factor that drives people to frozen, canned, and processed. Maybe we should stop converting farmland into condos? ;-)

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnemone

Oh - Haha, sorry Anne-Marie... posted above before reading below... *smacks herself in the forehead*

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnemone

[...] It would be the coolest thing ever if somebody with a similar perspective could fake a sincere-sounding application to McDonald’s. Imagine what a PR disaster McDonald’s would have on its hands if the company unwittingly selected someone with strong critical thinking skills for this program. (Via Simon.) Link [...]

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter404 Not Found

It's all good! I'm on the Island here in BC (the big Island) and while there are many local farms to shop from, a small bag of baby lettuces is five bucks. That's just a bag of lettuce for crying out loud (just TRY getting fresh meats for less than the crap you'll get at Costco or Superstore even though that stuff is loaded with all kinds of scary things that shouldn't be anywhere NEAR our children).
If I'm not mistaken, five bucks will buy you a happy meal - or come close maybe? And I can't fault the poor farmer - he has employees to pay, property tax, fees, loans, and his own family to feed. (pardon the generic "he") It's an untenable position and needs some serious thought and fixin'! I wish I had the magic bullet ...

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnne-Marie

I guess I am not a "real mom." I guess giving birth to them, breastfeeding them, feeding them, clothing them, crying over them, thinking about what they need, taking care of them when they are sick, trying to teach them right from wrong, nurturing their gifts, picking them up when they fall, trying to help them navigate through this world doesn't count because I have fed them McDonald's on multiple occasions. LOTS of times, actually.

I guess I'll go turn myself in to the mommy police. If I am lucky, they'll let me visit once in awhile.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNot a Real Mom

"Maybe you can keep a cheeseburger from the tour to show to your grandchildren one day." <Best line I've read all week. I think I snorted.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJill @BabyRabies

We're all "real moms" whether we feed our children McDonald's or not. Assuming that "real moms" would be compelled to know what is happening behind the Golden Arches is wrong. Assuming that someone is less of a "real mom" because she feeds her kids McDonald's sometimes is also wrong.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I personally enjoy the occasional McDonald's hamburger. I think it's a tasty treat and it doesn't leave a bad taste in my mouth. Unlike the smug comments posted above.

How can seemingly well educated, mature women be so intolerant of dissenting opinions, thoughts, and actions? Some people like indulging their children with a meal at McDonald's. Who are you to judge us for making this decision?

The insulting #RealMoms hashtag may have originated with Anne-Marie's (who commented on June 22, 2011 at 2:06 pm) belief that "Real Moms feed their kids REAL food," but your fans seem overly fond of this inflammatory phrase. I'd rather hang out with FAKE moms who live in the REAL world.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFake Mom.

I wondered what was up when I saw a McDonalds twitter party yesterday. My first thought when I realized that the party questions were focused around "health" issues, was "is anyone really buying this?" it took every ounce of restraint that I had not to post such a reply in their twitter stream, but thought doing so would disrespect the mom's and other who were involved and the message would be lost on the company that it was directed at.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJackie

Jackie:

I think that was actually a different initiative. I think that was McDonald's USA, whereas this is McDonald's Canada.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Fake Mom:

The "real moms" term originated with the CityLine McDonald's All-Access Moms campaign's slogan: "Real moms go behind the Golden ArchesTM!"

I'm not sure where in particular the hash tag originated from.

I do know that Lisa Borden was suggesting a specific tweet in her comment below, which I would agree with as a juxtaposition to the ""Real moms go behind the Golden ArchesTM!". Her suggested tweet was "#Realmoms do not accept #Healthwashing @CitylineCa and @McD_Canada!" I would agree that health washing is pretty much what this campaign is about and what anyone who joins this campaign can expect. My hope is that the "real moms" who do end up getting chosen will NOT accept the health washing that is presented to them.

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Phd - you are correct, my real moms comment was actually in response to another real mom comment - that doesn't excuse the fact that I didn't think before posting. Fake mom, you're absolutely correct - real moms love and care for their children - period. I certainly didn't mean to suggest otherwise by my comment and should have thought about how this would be interpreted. I apologize.
I don't see overly processed food as real food - that doesn't mean it can't be given as a treat (freezies and popsicles aren't real food and I give them as treats too). What I intended to express was that it isn't and shouldn't be a staple or even healthy which McDonald's with it's "healthy choices" and latest health washing push would have us believe.

June 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnne-Marie

The point is NOT if "realmoms" began with Lisa Borden or with Anne-Marie.

I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that your agenda is being broadcast in a fashion that hurts and offends. McDonald's food is unhealthy. But people chose to eat it for a myriad of reasons. And those people? They don't deserve your derision. They don't need your paternalistic attitude. They don't want you "educating" them. I think you might be better served by accepting that not every mother endorses your crusade or finds your myopic view charming.

June 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFake Mom.

Anne Marie, thank you for clarifying your statement.

June 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFake Mom.

My crusade is not against the people who choose to eat fast food (regardless of their reasons). We eat fast food too, though I do avoid certain companies for a variety of reasons.

My crusade is against the companies, industry associations, and governments who do too little to protect people and who maliciously seek to exploit them for profit.

I recognize that not everyone endorses that crusade, but it is important to me nonetheless.

I also recognize that there are people whose crusades are different than mine and who may exploit my message to support a message that I do not endorse. While I can manage that to some extent on this blog by being involved in the conversation, I can't fully control what others choose to do with my message.

June 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Ewwww. But kudos for you. It would be awesome if elementary school teachers would do the same, the kids would tell their parents about the gross french fries. Not that I'm chastising parents for going to McDonald's, but I truly believe not everyone knows just how bad it is.

June 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristine

She's talking to MacDonald's who have to have a minimum amount of social responsibility. Consumers do make their own choices and no-one is perfect, but I don't think that we should be let off the hook either for participating in mass animal abuse, pollution, child illness, coronary disease, etc. Whether you like it or not, you, me and everyone else aren't exempt from doing our best to be socially responsible too. It's not about being patronising, it's about at some point not constantly giving ourselves free passes to do whatever we want without facing our responsibilities.

June 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

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