Another #McFail?

We’ve all heard about the backfiring hashtag fiasco that happened to McDonald’s last week. In a not-so-bright attempt to coerce followers to share their happy reminiscences of McDonald’s visits on Twitter, followers  banded together to use the #McDstories hashtag to share their horrible McD misadventures instead. In reflection this hashtag idea was not so fortunate, so where did the idea come from and why would we have thought it was a good idea? Likely because, I’m thinking, the folks at the PR table at McD’s believed their followers enjoyed their product (naturally. Why else would they follow them?) and would be more inclined to detail their good experiences before their bad ones. But then, this hashtag just fell into the hands of everyone else — non-followers of the brand who took this opportunity to post a virtual lambasting and everyone else who bit into something strange or whose server was less than kind.

Mashable’s story this morning reveals that McDonald’s is not giving up on hashtags just yet. Plucky are the folks at McDonald’s who are trying again to bring positive attention to their brand! I’ve just checked the hashtag out and it doesn’t look like many are bashing the McDonald’s product just yet — but many are using the hashtag in tweets which question whether or not McDonald’s should be jumping into the trending game so soon after their detractors have ambushed their last campaign.

Oh — and the #littlethings hashtag was reportedly already launched by the folks at Doubletree. So what’s the bigger mistake? Not checking out hashtags.org to see if the hashtag was already in use? Creating this campaign so soon after the last?

Does this seem like maybe the McDonald’s folks should have taken another few weeks and worked on something else?

As their current TV ad spouts: “Bring back the break.”

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Another #McFail?

  1. Hi Nicole,

    I think McDonalds will always be a target, (think Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (2002)). I agree with you and am guessing their PR people probably didn’t do their SWOT and PEST analysis before they rolled this one out.

    Regards,
    Tess

  2. Nice post . . . and you’re likely right Tess

  3. Phil Fine

    Hi, Nicole:

    This incident once again shows the importance of P.R. practitioners having street smarts! Handing out a hashtag without any restrictions is obviously a recipe for trouble. By its very nature, Twitter — and, for that matter, all social media — empower people, giving a universal, forum to individuals who otherwise would never get one.
    So, McDonald’s should have thought that by opening the lines to all and sundry, it would make itself vulnerable to every form of verbal attack. The folks at the Golden Arches should have remembered what happened a year or so ago in Germany when some teenagers used Facebook to get the word out about a party they wanted to hold in their parents’ house. Because there was no filtering, gazillions of Facebook users read about the party — and, unfortunately — gazillions of teens showed up!

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