McDonald’s Twitter Ad Campaign Was A #McFail

They try, they really do. This was McDonald’s umpteenth time purchasing a Promoted Product on Twitter to try and cash in on some social media success. And – as before – the campaign was commandeered by sarcastic users who twisted the purpose of their Promoted Tweets.

McDonald’s used two hashtags last week in their Promoted Tweets – #MeetTheFarmers and #McDStories. The first hashtag went off without a hitch, introducing Twitter users to the farmers who grow some of the ingredients in McDonald’s burgers.

But when they switched to #McDStories, the whole thing fell apart. Apparently, not everyone has positive stories to share about McDonald’s. And those with the worst stories tended to be the most vocal last week.

If you do a search for the “#McDStories” hashtag even today, you’ll likely find some remnants of the types of stories people were swapping about the fast food chain. Here’s a pretty representative example:

“My father used to bring us to McDonalds as a reward when we were kids. Now he’s horribly obese and has diabetes. Lesson learned #McDStories”

“One time I walked into McDonalds and I could smell Type 2 diabetes floating in the air and I threw up. #McDStories”

And there were some even more X-rated tweets as well.

Despite some feel-good tweets from McDonald’s itself appearing at the top of the search results page for the hashtag (first because they were promoted, then because they were retweeted enough to remain near the top), most of the consumer content was negative in some way.

Two hour into promoting this hashtag, McDonald’s pulled it – but not before the community had jumped on it and continued to tweet their McDonald’s (horror) stories.

PaidContent spoke to McDonald’s social media director, Rick Wion, about what went wrong.

He claims that they chose the words that went into both of these hashtags carefully, but they just couldn’t prevent McDonald’s detractors chiming in with its fans.

And that’s the thing with social media: once you open yourself or your business up to the masses, the message really is out of your hands. You’ve just got to hope that you’ve built enough brand equity to weather the storm, should one arise.