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13 Jun



McDonald’s Tries to Squash Racial Rumor with Twitter

June 13, 2011 | By | 2 Comments

Twitter is a Monster when it comes to spreading news quickly and virally, whether it is factual or false. Celebrities and brands alike have become aware of this power Twitter gives its users. They must monitor, manage, and update their account(s) daily to keep current and prevent Twitter nightmares from occurring. This past weekend, McDonalds was forced to protect their brand after a hoax twitpic (photo now taken down) was posted showing a sign that claimed, “African-American customers are now required to pay an additional fee of $1.50 per transaction.”

McDonalds had someone monitoring the situation and they were able to put out a timely response via their twitter account, @McDonalds: “That pic is a senseless & ignorant hoax McD’s values ALL our customers. Diversity runs deep in our culture on both sides of the counter.”

The picture spread like a wild fire over Twitter and the hashtag #SeriouslyMcDonalds was averaging 20 tweets per second. The phone number on the sign is the customer satisfaction hotline number for rival fast food chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken.  It is still uncertain who carried out the prank.

“From our management crew, franchisees — across the board, we’re very proud of our record of diversity. This is unfortunately an example of how rumors can outspeed the truth. Over the last 48 hours we’ve been tweeting and striving to clarify that this is a hoax.” –  Rick Wion, McDonald’s Director of Social Media told Mashable in a recent phone interview.

Despite their continued actions, McDonalds will have to battle hard to prevent this “hoax” from affecting the bottom line.  They need to use more digital sources and networks to spread the truth; also figuring out who posted the picture via twitpic will allow McDonalds to fully proclaim their innocence (if an employee was not associated with the incident).  Most comments have been positive but the negative tweets from uninformed users are still popping up, causing the conversations to continue.

What McDonalds is dealing with can happen to any brand; no one brand is protected from these sorts of attacks. If McDonalds continues to be proactive they will eventually put down the rumors, but they cannot afford to let up.  The fast response time they showed was great, but not everyone is on Twitter. It is McDonalds’ responsibility to educate their customers on the issue at hand, and prevent any confusion that was caused by the picture.

Everyone should learn something from the McDonalds situation; social media is a beast that must be kept, maintained, and tamed on a regular basis.  If you fail to do this you may lose more than just profit, the whole brand could crash from just one Tweet!


  1. McDonald’s has a reputation of being the most culturally sensitive fast-food chain. This plus being on top of their social media really saved them from a big crisis. (Alma DDB has done a great job with their multicultural outreach too!)

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