It’s no surprise that McDonald’s has really been struggling with their product. With rumors of burger blunders such as the inhabitants of “pink slime, worm meat and  other fillers” it’s no wonder “the Company’s sales slump is now officially entering its third year” – Restaurant Finance Monitor

Johnathan Maze, goes on to explain, in the article “5 reasons McDonalds is struggling”, the heavy toll negative publicity has had on the brand. With a range of offenses from food health issues (as debut in Food inc) to employee malpractice, It’s no wonder the public perception is in sharp decline.

Their Burgers may be scary, but their marketing is spot on!

With their amazing marketing campaigns, I can’t help but think how much better off they’d be if McDonald’s had a more reputable product to promote. But, as a passionate community marketer, I have to hand it to their most recent ad campaign during the 2015 Superbowl. McDonald’s was one of the best examples of community marketing perfection. The expressive ad sparked the interest of viewers who quickly hoped to snag a chance to trade in a more traditional purchase payment option, with a kind act.

“What we’re looking for is to have a unique conversation with America,” said McDonald’s Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl

It’s clear they understand the power an interconnected social media campaign can have on their community. But, is a well-executed social marketing strategy enough to mask their suspected low food quality, poor public perception and past social #McFailures?

As if paying with #hugs wasn’t risky enough. Now a Tampa bay store is offing sit down, candle lit dinners, this valentine’s day. It seems they are giving more away for free than people are willing to pay as they stretch their branding voice to its limits.

With a variety of marketing tactics plus 145 menu options; it’s clear they are fumbling around trying to please the masses rather than simply perfecting one thing; their product.

Although social marketers everywhere can learn from this year’s Superbowl marketing campaign; I’m not quite convinced having a poor product is enough to turn the companies’ declining negative perception around.

Understanding the poor public perception, McDonald’s turns to a true community marketing style and executing what other brands are scared to do; 

…turn to the public for honest feedback. 

Partnering with former MythBuster Grant Imahara Shills, they have openly addressed public product accusations by taken customers behind the scenes to see the true process for themselves; in a documentary rebuttal of their own.

At this point I find myself asking; what would master marketer Gary Vaynerchuck say. The truth is, he’s already said it in a recent article “there’s no substitute for a shitty product.”

While all product lines are not without fault, there is always a possible solution.

What can Marketers learn from the unraveling of an iconic brand?


1. No matter what you say about your own brand, the public WILL conduct their own research. Based on what they find online; they WILL form their own opinion.

New Social Media Research shows what people expect from brands. -Social Media Examiner


2. It’s tough for a brand to change the mind of the public. Word of mouth has to turn it around negative perception, otherwise it’s a uphill battle.

Why Word of Mouth Marketing is the most important Social Media. -Forbes


3. Listen to your community. Ask them Q’s and make adjustments based on feedback.

How to create social media listening to create better content for your audience. -Shannon Byrne


4. Consider a strategic partnership.

How to Extend Your Reach With Content Collaboration. -Social Media Examiner


5. Fix the problems that have been made public!

A Quick Guide to Handling Negative Feedback on Social Media. -Simply Measured