Have you ever criticized a band on social media, such as “why does your food look different in the advertising than what is in the store” (McDonald’s was recently doubted)?

Brands cannot choose not to involve in social media as long as they are known. With social media encourage more and more UGC (user-generated contents), consumers are getting behind the wheel and driving brand stories today. Yet as technology allows people to share information, those stories can quickly lead to rumors and myths that circle the globe in seconds, which means marketers could lose control of their brand! (As we discussed on crisis social media brought last time.) Meanwhile, customers are increasingly expecting brands to be both transparent and engaging, requiring companies to open up a direct dialogue with them. It’s a risky strategy, especially if you’re responsible for a billion dollar brand.

That is the challenge Joel Yashinsky, Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada, faces every day. The FOOD SAFETY ISSUE is a heat topic, especially in China.

However, contrary to trying hard to cover the unfavorable comments, McDonald’s Canada has harnessed transparency and technology, listening and engaging openly in a conversation with consumers through initiatives such as its “Our Food. Your Questions” program which integrated every parts in the operation system. Not only has they created a social media platformYour Questions Website, for mutual communications where you can ask any questions, get the answer from a video patiently showing every details related to the question, and share it via social media such as Facebook and Twitter. They even create a trailer to make it viral.  McDonald’s Canada – “Our Food, Your Questions”

The campaign wins the latest Gold Lions in the 2013 Cannes Lions Festival and the Best of Show honor at the 91st Marketing Awards in Toronto Thursday. According to Ren Zhiqiang, one judge of the Cannes Lions 2013 Gold Lions as well as the CMO of Renren.com, it not only bravely cope various challenges raised by the public via SOCIAL MEDIA but also reach REAL COMMUNICATIONS with their consumers with such a BIG IDEA, achieving a win-win.

The effects are over 4.9 million views within one week after the video was posted on Youtube. Moreover, it spreads out of Canada to all of the world via other social media, even to China, where Youtube is blocked. While most comments on the campaign are positive, there are some negative voices questioning whether it is a smart response to be totally transparent facing crisis. As the comment quoted from Chinese Sina Microblog says, it can be critical that how to control the tendency to say all you know without reserve. “The campaign will find no way to apply in Chinese market, or it will trigger uncontrolled criticism on ‘materials safety’ and ‘restaurant hygiene'”.

Thus, what do you think of McDonald’s solution to be transparent facing crisis? Will Chinese think in a different ways? (Which companies exploring Chinese market may concern.)

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Is it smart for your brands to be transparent facing crisis?

2 thoughts on “Is it smart for your brands to be transparent facing crisis?

  1. Like politicians and celebrities, society has come to expect companies to be transparent after a PR crisis. To try and hide or to be disingenuous, breeds mistrust by the consumer and increases the problem.

    My question is- McDonald’s says it’s being transparent, but is it? Or are they giving nice, controlled PR friendly responses?

  2. I enthusiastically hope McDonald is transparent, but personally I don’t feel it. It may be a good campaign though…

    I feel when an entity say it will be transparent, it automatically mean the entity will CAREFULLY choose what to say. (personal view)

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