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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Apr 2010 @ 7:14am

    "McDonald's had a chance to address the criticism, but instead they chose to just brush it off."

    It was an April Fools joke. Criticism in the form of an April Fools joke should be address in the manner in which it's presented....as a joke.

    You criticize McDonald's for not making the 'right' response to this, but you don't actually go as far to say as what you feel the 'right' response would have been.

    It obviously wouldn't be suing the poor sap who wrote the article. It wouldn't be demanding that the article be taken down.

    Taking the joke seriously as if it were real would have shown the people at McDonald's have a slight case of the dumb and can't tell a joke when they see one. And criticizing the joke by saying they don't find it funny to make fun of their brand would again make them look like they can't laugh at themselves.

    So they should have said nothing then? But even that would have made it look like they are out of touch with what's going on.

    Unless there is another reaction that you had in mind, I would say what they did was the best choice. McDonald's is such a huge brand. If Super Size Me, Food Inc. and various other documentaries don't make that huge of a dent in it's profits, I doubt one April Fool's joke will. And I'm will to bet they see it the same way.

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