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McDonald’s falls victim to Twitter honesty

Selective blindness can affect businesses as easily as it can individuals. In the case of tech-mad young execs at McDonald’s, it led to the kicking off of two conversations that they quickly realised were heading in the wrong direction. KitGuru covers itself in camouflage and heads off to the bushes, to listen to what the little birdies are tweeting about.

There can be little doubt that McDonald’s has evolved as company. On 13th November 1974, a small hamburger joint opened in Woolwich (one of London’s rougher parts) and queues quickly formed to see what this new fangled American burger stuff was all about. No one gave a crap about animal rights, CFCs, sustainable resources or recycling. It was affordable food you could eat with your hands – and it instantly made Wimpy bars look tired and dreary.

In its first decade of UK business, McDonald’s was considered a great treat – especially for children. Toward the end of the last century, public opinion changed and McDonald’s had to scramble to ensure that the meat in its burgers wasn’t just testicles, snouts and lips. Packaging changed out of all recognition, salads were introduced, children were offered fruit options and the drinks menu started to include more and more ‘zero cal slurps’ (as a sideline, Coca Cola has told reporters that for the 2012 Olympics, 75% of the drinks it provides will be sugar-free or 100% diet).

So what’s the story with Mc-D’s and the TwitterNet ?

Early one morning, filled with the joy of its new campaigns toward a leaner planet and a cleaner/shinier brand, McDonald’s kick started one conversation about ‘Meeting Our Farmers’ and another which encouraged the online community to ‘Tell us your McDonald’s-related stories’.

It looks as though momentum was on the side of these threads – and they quickly grew to around 1,600 conversations. Unfortunately for Ronald-shaped PR folks, the majority seemed to be complaints. Killer comments included:-

  • Fingernails in my Big Mac
  • Bit a McDouble and broke a tooth – on what exactly I do not know
  • Hospitalised after eating there, became a vegetarian and never went back
  • Turned my back on McDonald’s and lost more than 3 stone in 6 months

The McDonald’s PR folk were also keen to shot down conversations which pointed to YouTube films about how the pigs etc are treated during the course of their short lives.

At the time of writing, the execs responsible had not been sacked [There’s still time – Ed] and McDonald’s continues to Produce enough meals at a rate that’s fast enough to feed everyone on the planet once every 100 days.

Congratulations to the McDonald's marketing bods who inspired the creation of this collage.

KitGuru says: These 2 ‘smart ideas’ alone managed to generate 2% of the world’s McDonald’s related stories in just a few hours. Given a bit more effort, McDonald’s could have created themselves a genuine PR disaster that would have cost millions in advertising to overcome. Well done. Proves that PR still has the ‘power-to-weight’ win over traditional advertising.

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