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So I woke up this morning to find this rather amusing post from the Daily Mail’s Twitter feed:

@MailOnline: “#McDstories: Twitter promotion backfires as users hijack #McDstories hashtag to share fast food horror stories http://bit.ly/AyjniD

The original campaign had been to promote positive stories about the farmers who grow produce for the world’s most famous fast food brand using the hashtag #MeetTheFarmers. The stunt magnificently backfired however when the hashtag was changed on one tweet from McDonalds Twitter feed from #MeetTheFarmers to #McDstories, then subsequently hijacked by the not so shy and retiring voice of the Twitter community……

@McDonalds “When u make something w/pride, people can taste it,” – McD potato supplier #McDStories

The use of this more general hashtag certainly got people Tweeting their #McDstories, but as I suspect, not quite in the light those poor MaccyD Marketers were hoping!

@Muzzafuzza ‎”I haven’t been to McDonalds in years, because I’d rather eat my own diarrhea.”

@Alice_2112 “Hospitalized for food poisoning after eating McDonalds in 1989. Never ate there again and became a vegetarian. Should have sued #McDStories”

@PuppyPuncher “Ordered a McDouble, something in the damn thing chipped my molar #McDStories”

This MaccyD Twitter disaster is a prime example of how an online campaign can turn from a simple stunt into a full blown brand crisis in the blink of an eye.

So what went wrong?

Well, first of all, that clever communications team at McDonalds HQ forgot one major thing: GREAT BRAND, POOR PRODUCT!  

They are a fast food chain with a high calorie, fat and salt count which has contributed highly to the worlds growing obesity endemic! So why do they insist on the constant need to pretend they are “natural” and “healthy”, when, as quite clearly demonstrated by the disgruntled Tweeters of #McDStories, they are not and never will be…..no matter how many times we #MeetTheFarmers or buy a salad box to go with our Big Mac and fries! To prevent further brand damage, they should simply embrace the fact they are a fast food chain instead of this contrived attempt to pull the wool over consumer eyes.

Second, that clever communications team at McDonalds HQ also forgot the most important and seemingly obvious thing about Twitter – TWITTER IS A TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION PLATFORM!

Unlike placed media advertisements, controlled Facebook pages or viral marketing videos for YouTube, the basis of Twitter’s popularity is the fact that it gives a voice to ordinary people like you, me and the tweeters behind the #McD[horror]Stories.

There is no means of one-way control over Twitter, it is a loose cannon designed to generate community conversation which is why it is so fundamentally fantastic. It is a channel to talk about the good and the bad (mainly the bad in this instance), and give power back to the people to have their say. Simply put, it provides organisations with a voice, but equally provides consumers and activists with a voice too.

Social media voices should be symbiotic in nature, not antagonistic, hence the name “social”. The sooner big brands such as McDonalds realise this, along with the fact they are no longer infallible to the wrath and online speed of the public voice, the sooner they can come to embrace social media for productive brand building purposes rather than one-way publicity stunts.

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I just added some information about my experience with the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund – It was a campaign I undertook between February – May 2011 and I thought i’d just share a few facts about it here. If you are interested, would like to read more and see some of the coverage achieved, please visit the “Work” section of this Blog.

Background To The Campaign

In May 2002 The Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund (MKMRF) was set up by Chris Knighton in memory of her husband Mick, who died from the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma in 2001.

Over the past 10 years MKMRF has raised over £900,000 and has successfully funded three major research projects into mesothelioma.

On the 14th May 2011, MKMRF hosted their sponsored Glitter Ball to celebrate the 9th Anniversary of the Charity’s foundation. The Glitter Ball also commemorated the 10th year since Mick Knighton’s death.

Objective

Successfully raise awareness amongst publics about the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund and the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma, with the aim of encouraging charitable donations before the May 14th Glitter Ball, 2011.

Strategies

Launch a media relations campaign and successfully gain coverage in at least one major North East publication.

Launch a personal communications strategy with organisations to effectively raise awareness and charitable interest in MKMRF and The Glitter Ball.

Launch a Social Media campaign.

Organise a fundraising event to raise money towards MKMRF’s first £1,000,000.

How This Was Achieved

Press releases to media contacts.

Telephone and email correspondence with past and potential charitable organisations.

Brochure and leaflets produced about MKMRF and The Glitter Ball, and sent via email and post to past and potential charitable organisations.

Online fundraising and awareness materials set up including JustGiving, Facebook and Twitter pages.

Face to face correspondence with potential event fundraising hosts.

What Was Achieved

A front page feature and double page spread on pages 10 and 11 of The Chronicle worth a calculated £25,010.

A four minute coverage feature on BBC Look North.

Four pages of online Chronicle coverage.

Leaflets produced and sent to over 2,000 recipients of the MKMRF newsletter.

PDF brochure designed and circulated to past and potential sponsors.

Facebook and Twitter pages created.

Prize donations collected and auctioned at The Glitter Ball, including restaurant vouchers, Fenwicks vouchers, collectable art, skydiving lessons and a weekend holiday stay in York.

A charity Salsa event held on Monday 2nd May.

Over £30,000 raised, surpassing the target on the night of the Glitter Ball by £15,000!

VIDEO REEL:

This is a short photo-reel I created of collated photo’s taken by MKMRF of some of their greatest achievements over the 9 years of existence

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