McDonald’s isn’t lovin it

Be careful… Be careful… Be careful…with social media!!

That’s all that I can say after having a read at the stories of McDonalds’ horrible social media marketing strategy, known as the ‘#McDStories’.

Maccas’ initial purpose was to engage better with their customers, employees and suppliers, hence encouraging people to share their stories via Twitter about Maccas’ employees, food and suppliers. They want people to share heart warming stories about McDonald’s, but guess what happened?!


As it turns out, people started tweeting about negative stories in relation to McDonald’s, in just less than 2 hours after the hashtag was promoted.

This #McDStories became viral in 2012, and in association with being viral, it means that it can only be really good or terribly bad!

After knowing this strategy didn’t go as planned, McDonald’s pulled its post and tried to stop this disaster within 2 hours after it was published. However, crowd-sourced campaigns were apparently harder to control or even stopped, therefore, until the end of last year (might even be until now), the #McDStories is still gathering steam.

Here are some of the tweets within 2 hours time.

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Many blogs and articles were discussing this issue, and wondering how this Twitter accident may affect Maccas’ brand image. No brands want to be associated with how bad their supplies are, and how there might be fingernails in their meals. So Maccas’ reputation was definitely affected at the time, but not quite sure that it made a major impact towards its overall brand image. As a large globally known fast food retail chains, it’s not that easy to scar its reputation. Even though some people might shifted away or had a negative perception towards McDonald’s, its contingency plan (whatever it was) seems to be working quite well. It is shown by its sales that is still in a good position until now, and the brand image seems to be revived by its other activities or campaigns both online and offline. The question is, was McDonald’s investment considered as a money well spent?!

So, better test market your #hashtag ideas before you launch it, and even better, always consider the worst possible case scenario of each strategy.

Well, we’ve learned from McDonald’s that we should be careful with our plans, because heart warming can become steam gathering!


  • Miller, M. (2013). Brands Gone Wild: Social Media Marketing Fails & Lessons Learned. Retrieved September 11, 2013, from
  • Hill, K. (2012, January 24). #McDStories: When A Hashtag Becomes A Bashtag. Retrieved September 11, 2013, from
  • Roberts, H. (2012, January 24). #McFail! McDonalds’ Twitter promotion backfires as users hijack #McDstories hashtag to share fast food horror stories . Retrieved September 11, 2013, from
  • Lubin, G. (2012, January 24). McDonald’s Twitter Campaign Goes Horribly Wrong #McDStories. Retrieved September 11, 2013, from

6 thoughts on “McDonald’s isn’t lovin it

    • yes, apparently a good idea doesn’t necessarily mean a successful execution. WHat do you McDobald’s should use in executing this stories sharing strategy (in a heart warming way)? Because I tried to think about it, and Twitter seems to be a very viable option. It’s just people’s behaviors that always surprised us

  1. I can see why McDonalds decided to implement this campaign, but it was a very risky move by the company who obviously didn’t expect a negative response! I agree with you, hashtags should have been tested prior to the launch of the campaign. Better yet, they could have arranged for a few people to post some positive stories to get the ball rolling!

    • yes, internal marketing type of strategy. I didn’t think about that before hha, good one! If McDonald’s can persuade their internals to post positive ones, it might outweigh the negative tweets. What do you reckon could be other media to execute this stories sharing (in a heart warming way) strategy?

  2. These kinds of campaigns can be quite risky. Qantas experienced similar backlash when they tried to get the #qantasluxury twitter campaign off the ground around the time that all of the industrial action was happening. Instead they faced a huge backlash from angry consumers. It can be hard, especially for companies like McDonalds. I think the key is to make sure that you take a pro-active and positive approach to dealing with consumer complaints. Maybe a twitter campaign isn’t the right fit for the brand, they have done far better with things like the Big Mac chant ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I guess we’ll never figure out what’s really in the consumers’ head. Thank goodness for McDonald’s that this event didn’t much affect their sales, but should be careful next time. Hashtags can be cruel sometimes. What did Qantas do as a backup plan when that happened?

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