McDonald's Laughs Off Criticism Embedded In April Fool's Joke

from the inappropriate-responses dept

On April 1st, Grist posted an April Fools story about McDonald's that claimed the fast food chain would no longer follow through with its global composting initiative after scientists at the University of California-Berkeley found that none of the items on McDonald's menu were suitable for composting -- and none of the "food" would break down even after 1,000 years.

The story was certainly inspired by a recent blog post by Joann Bruso claiming that the Happy Meal she had purchased and placed on a shelf for an entire year looked virtually unchanged -- no mold, no decomposition or smells. In this case, McDonald's reacted by posting a response on its website, calling Bruso's story an urban legend.

Apparently, many people fell for Grist's joke because it just seemed so plausible. Allison Arieff, a writer for GOOD and The New York Times, tweeted the news -- and just minutes later, McDonald's Twitter contact tweeted back a very odd reply:
Arieff: "McDonald's scraps composting program because the items on their menu WON'T DECOMPOSE. Yikes. http://ow.ly/1tClQ (via@edibleIA,@edibleSF)"

Molly at McDonald's: "They say April Fools jokes are a form of flattery! This one had us laughing too! ^Mol"
Here's a story that's further spreading the idea that the food at McDonald's is so unnatural that it won't even decompose, and what does McDonald's do? Laugh it off, of course. Was this the right response? Well, it was definitely not one that people were expecting. McDonald's had a chance to address the criticism, but instead they chose to just brush it off. Maybe they didn't want to open a can of worms, and since they're so big, they figured that they could get away with it. And they're probably right -- the number of people who were turned off by their response (or even aware of the story) was likely to be insignificant for the fast food giant.

However, it's likely a different story for smaller businesses. They really need to pay attention to and deliver what their customers want. It's probably not a good idea to attempt to brush off customer complaints with "humor." Perhaps even McDonald's should be more careful with its tweets now that everything they say will be archived for posterity. We'll see how long it takes for tweets to decompose.

Filed Under: jokes, pr spin
Companies: mcdonalds


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  1. icon
    Lance (profile), 21 Apr 2010 @ 5:20am

    Definitely different

    Like most of the other responders I've seen to this article, I was surprised to see the suggestion that McD's should have responded differently.

    Giving Joyce the benefit of the doubt, I'm guessing that she actually meant to point out that smaller companies do not have the latitude in responding to "customer complaints". Unfortunately, I believe she picked a poor example to make that point. It seems a bit contrived to use an April Fools prank, and the subsequent response from the "victim" of said prank, as the basis for a serious discussion of customer service.

    Why she would use this example, given the huge number of examples where a huge company doesn't respond appropriately to authentic customer complaints? As this is an article sponsored by AcceptPay/Amex, is there some agenda being served? I sincerely hope that this is not a reflection of the kinds of submissions we can expect, when the submission is sponsored.

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