McDonald's leans on VR to open up its supply chain and raise profile of farming industry

Words by John McCarthy and Natalie Mortimer

McDonald’s UK has opened the gates to its food sources, utilising virtual reality and 360 degree video to take viewers through its food production processes.

The ‘Follow our Foodsteps’ campaign looks to show the public a narrative behind its British and Irish process, from the farm fronts to processors and supplies, as the brand looks to drum up interest in the farming industry, one that it spends £900m per year on.

One app 'Top of the Crop’ allows Oculus Rift users to try their hand behind the wheel of a tractor. Another takes viewers to the farms producing the brand’s dairy, egg and patty goods.

Speaking to The Drum Connor McVeigh, director of supply chain at McDonald’s UK said the decision to use VR comes as the technology becomes more accessible and shunned that idea of it being a gimmick.

"It's been so important for us to draw on the first hand experience of our farmers and industry experts to ensure that the experience is a genuine true reflection. There's not a gimmicky aspect to it, there is an important hard aspect to this; attracting new people into the industry is a serious challenge that we have as a large customer to the food and farming industry but more broadly across the industry.

"So whilst there is a need for us to attract interest from those 1million we want to share the experience with, there is an important topic at play which is trying to encourage those users who take part in the experience to reassess their opinion of farming and the food industry but ultimately we hope to change their career ambitions towards those industries because its so important to the livelihood of the industries but also an important part of the overall industry in the UK.

New technology is also being leveraged to put viewers in the shoes of McDonald’s kitchen staff as they prepare food under pressure. And finally a ‘Guess my Job’ food and farming skills challenge: has been rolled out, developed by McDonald’s in collaboration with agricultural university Harper Adams.

McVeigh added that he hopes the experiences will “help build pride in British and Irish farming, challenge outdated stereotypes and celebrate the best of food and farming in the UK today.”

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