We’re just three days into the new year and there’s already been a bit of a marketing cock-up by none other than McDonald’s. A brand that I was only talking about a few days ago due to the impressive efforts of arguably it’s biggest competitor. From being undermined by Burger King, to being outdone by KFC… It’s really not going too well for the fast-food chain right now.
But I’ve jumped ahead. Let’s take a few steps back for those who may not know what I’m talking about. What I refer to is McDonald’s taking a bit of a courageous decision to announce a ‘new’ vegan product, just days after KFC revealed their new vegan-friendly burger.
Both very timely acts with Vegunary in full swing, but for McDonald’s, their proclamation has been nothing short of disastrous.
Major McFail: Veggie Dippers
Though the brand undoubtedly doesn’t need as much publicity as it’s competitors due to an incredibly strong brand reputation, McDonald’s (for reasons unbeknownst to me) still felt the need to geg in on all the new vegan products that have been launched the past few weeks.
Trying to penetrate the discussions around Greggs’ vegan Steak Bake, and in particular KFC’s vegan burger, the fast-food giant reported on their new product: the ‘vegan dippers’. Only, with quite a few issues surrounding them that probably made them more effort than they were worth.
Not only do they look totally unappetising (I’m not a veggie myself but I can totally sympathise with those who wouldn’t touch this with a 10ft stick… I wouldn’t either) but this is reportedly a product that’s just been simply refashioned to make it look new.
As stated by (so, so many) people on social media, all they needed to do was make a Quorn product, that’s literally all the vegans are asking for.
Not vegetables in breadcrumbs, FYI.
The attention and backlash that McDonalds has received from its shoddy attempt to stay relevant and current has now far exceeded social media. The brand name is also popping up in the press, as Lifestyle & Trend Journalists are quick to point out that McDonalds has made a major error and is repeatedly failing to give their customers what they want.
Not good publicity for the retailer at all…
What Was The Point?
Well isn’t that the question.
I’m guessing this is something that a lot of people, especially those with a marketing background, are asking right now. McDonalds already has an admirably strong brand reputation, one that very few come close to matching. If it aint’ broke, why fix it? From what I can see, there was absolutely no reason for the brand to try and get involved in the Vegan movement and align with what their competitors. Not unless they’ve got anything worthwhile to bring to the table, that is.
As all famed backfires tend to go, this marketing attempt has ultimately done them more harm than good.
What I’d say is that McDonalds needs to cut their losses. To stop trying to compete unless they can match consumer expectations and instead focus on what they’re good at – which is capitalising on their established products that so many of us are a fan of. Then, work on a better vegan product in the background, one that doesn’t insult those with such a diet. It may have been the right time, but it certainly wasn’t the right product – there’s no point marketing something that’s not going to win affection, even if your competitors are smashing their attempts out of the park.
I’m looking forward to seeing if McDonalds heed the words of their backlash and take constructive criticism and turn it into an opportunity. Following the comments on social media and far beyond, this poses a perfect opportunity for the brand to come back with a new vegan product and market it with a ‘you asked for it, we created it’ angle.
That’s a campaign that’d work well for them in wake of their recent mistakes.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.