McDonalds – crossed a line or being savvy?

The big story that has been on the North America airwaves has been the incredible story of 3 women who disappeared for years had finally been found. Kidnapped and held hostage for a combined 30 years. News is trickling out to the despicable conditions these women were forced to endure. A tragedy for the victims, we must not forget that. Because of this reality, there are a lot of mixed reactions to McDonald’s reaction to getting a plug from the now famous eye witness interview. See below…


Right off the bat…around 9 seconds in…he mentions he was eating his McDonalds when everything started. The video has gone viral and Mr Ramsey has been doing the speaking tour. Ah the beauty of watching someone’s 15 minutes of fame. Even on his interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, McDonalds comes up again – click here for video. In reaction to all this free advertising, the folks at the golden arches decided to go to social media to chime in.

McDonalds hails their new spokesperson

McDonalds hails their new spokesperson

Was this appropriate or taking advantage of a terrible situation? There has been much discussion as to whether or not McDonalds crossed a line. Unfortunately when it comes to communications and public relations, any event or news is seen as an opportunity to push one’s message. While the saying – there is no such thing as bad publicity – might have been true decades ago, when the message could be “controlled,” it has some limits in the current communications environment. Click here for a good piece on this axiom. For McDonalds the situation is not about anything they have done or been part of, but they are being involved in the story by a witness. So should they be “taking advantage” of this? I say…yes.

Maybe their tweet should not have included “we’ll be in touch” that gives the impression they are thinking of how to exploit Mr Ramsey for promotional needs. But the fact they tweeted about this and mentioned Mr Ramsey is to be expected. Why not? They are capturing some of the discussions and grabbing some exposure. Of course, and maybe they will, rather than insinuate some “reward” for Mr Ramsey, why not use this opportunity to call attention to domestic violence or violence against women. Make a donation, public or quietly to some charity. Could this also be seen as exploiting a situation for publicity? Sure. But at least it would also be doing some good.

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