McDonald’s leaves a bad taste in the mouth

And we’re not judging the burgers

In the UK McDonald’s has released an advertising video which has been widely judged to be in bad taste. And rightly so, there has been public outrage. McDonald’s has apologized for the “upset” that it caused, yet it refuses to withdraw the advert.

The advert features a boy who struggles to find something in common with his dead father – until his mother reveals that the boy’s favorite meal – a dish from McDonald’s – was also his father’s favorite meal.

Widows have called the video “offensive” and children (many of whom are now adults) who were bereaved in childhood have stated that they are “sickened” and “disgusted.”

McDonald’s has made a massive faux pas here.

Releasing the video in the first place was a big mistake. Where were the people with a sense of public decency? Are none of the executive management team in possession of a modicum of ability to detect what might offend people? And where are the PR advisers who should have warned McDonald’s about this?

But then to refuse to withdraw the video is a massive mistake. Reputationally this could hit McDonald’s very hard. So where is the crisis management advice to say “get this off air immediately?”

It’s only a few days since Pepsi’s equivalent experience, also doggedly refusing to the pull the advertisement initially, and then eventually relenting to public pressure, by which time the damage had become much worse.

At least McDonald’s managed to issue an apology almost immediately, rather than taking Pepsi’s approach of also holding out here.

And prior to Pepsi there are hundreds more examples of good, bad and downright appalling responses to crises.

Social media has made the crisis communications field near-real-time. And global. A robust crisis management plan is now more important than ever – there is no opportunity in the connected world to form a response.

But even more important than this is to eliminate the arrogance that you know better than the general public. Just ask Gordon Brown.

Here at VoxSapiens were have deliberately excluded a link to the video.

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