For farmers and ranchers looking to “tell their story,” it doesn’t get much bigger than working with an advertising giant like McDonald’s. The fast-food company’s commercials and billboards are literally everywhere.
Since launching the “Not Without Canadian Farmers” campaign in late 2015, McDonald’s Canada has focused part of its media spotlight on Canadian agriculture, aiming to explain where its ingredients come from.
If you’ve seen the latest ads in the campaign, you might even recognize one of the stars, Jill Harvie.
Her family’s farm — Harvie Ranching, of Olds, Alberta — is one of two family-run farms featured by McDonald’s Canada over the last few months (Desjardins Farms in Drummond, New Brunswick, is the other). It’s the commercial where a bus full of smiling kids visit a farm and ask questions about how food is produced.
We chatted with Harvie in Regina last week, while she was there showing cattle (including a FarmFair champion Simmental bull) with her family at Agribition.
Being a family-run operation and having participated in McDonald’s verified sustainable pilot program — along with Jill’s ability to speak French, Harvie Ranching checked all the boxes for McDonald’s and its marketing firm Tribal Worldwide Canada.
“What a great opportunity for the beef industry,” Harvie recalls thinking. “Originally when they threw the concept out, I said, Wow that’s something very different from what we’ve seen in years, or maybe ever.”
Feedback from colleagues in the beef industry and others has been overwhelmingly positive, she says. The Harvie Ranching website saw over 300,000 hits in the first month alone — more than five times its normal traffic.
With consumers — and restaurant chains — looking for transparency in food production, farms must be willing to open themselves up to the public spotlight, says Harvie.
“I believe it’s incredibly important that we share our story and are transparent. Reality is we love what we do. We want to continuously improve our operations, and I believe having some sort of verification to say we’re doing all the checks and balances is a good thing,” she says.
Check out the video above for more on Harvie’s participation in the McDonald’s campaign and the backstory on the Harvie Ranching “Not Without Canadian Farmers” commercial.