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. (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

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    Nick Coghlan (profile), 21 Apr 2010 @ 7:16am

    Pretty good response from McDonalds actually

    Angry response? "Geez, it was just a joke, chill out"
    Factual response? "Geez, it was just a joke, no need to get all serious about it" (plus, a restaurant publishing details on how long it typically takes their meals to decompose would be kinda disturbing)

    Genial response, acknowledging the joke and laughing it off? Probably about the best thing they could do.

    McDonald's are dealing with complaints about the quality of their food in many different ways (and to give them credit, the ones around here really do have a much better menu selection and level of quality than they did even 5 years ago). There was no need for them to bring all that into their response to a well-executed April Fools prank.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.