Three Lessons From McDonald’s: #Winner in the Face of Adversity


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When McDonald’s is faced with adversity, it fights back. Hard. Take a glimpse at its history and you’ll find key learnings that we can apply to our clients and brands.

McDonald’s struggles date back to the 1970s when it began to endure criticism for its environmental policies. Seeing the need to keep a favorable public opinion, the golden-arched giant began to implement packaging reduction efforts. Today, it uses 25 grams of packaging for a Big Mac, fries and drink; in the 1970s, it was 46 grams. Do the math and that’s a 46 percent reduction.

  • Lesson #1: Listen To and Evolve with CustomersOver the years, McDonald’s has listened and adapted to its customers’ demands. We need to do the same on behalf of our clients and brands. With social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, it’s easier than ever to listen and engage our customers. By closely monitoring customer, industry and environmental trends, we’ll stay ahead of the curve and enable ourselves to become early adapters.

When movies Super Size Me (2004) and Fast Food Nation (2006) slammed McDonald’s ‘ and fast-food restaurants across the nation faced mounting pressure from the FDA to clean up their menus ‘ McDonald’s revitalized its menu. It faded out Super Sized french fries and soft drinks, and began to offer healthier food options. McDonald’s then embarked on a full-scale advertising campaign to tout its healthier menu ‘ reaching mainstream consumers via TV and billboards.

In 2010, McDonald’s launched an extensive Global Best of Green marketing campaign to emphasize its green-friendly procedures, creating a website and consumer and media-facing full report about its efforts ‘ which includes an Energy All-Stars program that rewards McDonald’s managers in US locations for finding ways to conserve energy, to its implementation of new recycling methods for cooking oil, among other tactics.

  • Lesson #2: Don’t Be Afraid To Publicize Good Work ‘ Clearly, McDonald’s is not afraid to show off its corporate responsibility (CR) initiatives throughout the years ‘ whether through reports, media outreach or full-scale advertising campaigns. If your client or brand is undertaking CR initiatives or supporting a special cause, make sure you tell it to the world through effective communications. Otherwise, no one will know.

Today, McDonald’s is continuing to battle issues, such as public disdain for its direct advertising to children via Happy Meal toys and its reincarnation of Ronald the clown. Luckily for McDonald’s, it has a blog entitled ‘Values in Practice‘? that features information about its corporate responsibility initiatives, including its Global Marketing Guidelines for communicating responsibly to children.

  • Lesson #3: Tell Your Story or Someone Else Will ‘ When facing communications crises you have two choices: 1) you can ignore the conversations and hope they go away or 2) you can tell your side of the story. McDonald’s chose the latter through its blog. After all, if it doesn’t tell its story, someone else will. Blogs are a useful tool for your client or brand to speak to the world with a megaphone and provide real-time responses to criticism, as well as promote corporate responsibility initiatives. Why not take advantage of such a great tool?

As you can see from this brief glimpse into McDonald’s history, ongoing attacks have plagued the fast-food giant, but so have smart communications and business decisions. We can learn from McDonald’s and take these lessons back Pharmacy cialis to our everyday work with our clients and brands. #Win

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