Publication date December 15, 2023

5 times McDonald's marketing campaigns went horribly wrong!

McDonald’s is undoubtedly one of the giants in the realm of fast food and they keep surprising fans with interesting campaigns. From their Halloween Boo Buckets to the most recent McDonald’s Cardi B and Offset meal bundle, Ronald McDonald always keeps his fans on the edge of their seat, but it’s not always the case. Not every campaign McDonald’s puts out there is a hit, some have been missed and some were just straight-up questionable. But what are those campaigns, let us have a look.

McAfrica went wrong!

McDonald’s is a global fast food giant, and to stay a global giant over the years they have tailored many menu items targeted towards a specific region. For example, McDonald’s in Spain got the gazpacho, while McDonald's in India got the McAloo Tikki. And this tactic of introducing local favorites to the menu only added to McDonald’s success. And so for Africa, the McAfrika was pitched. The McAfrika was supposed to be an embodiment of authentic African cuisine and had beef, tomatoes, salad, and cheese inside pita bread. 

But their release of McAfrika went horribly wrong. McDonald’s released the new food item when southern Africa was being ravaged by famine. But McDonald’s had to go and make it even worse. So, they released it only in Norway, one of the world's richest nations. I don’t who in McDonald’s thought it was a good idea to do it but McDonlad’s was surely bombarded with criticisms. But surely this was one of McDonald’s most memorable blunders.

A questionable packaging!

This infamous McDonald’s blunder comes all the way from the 80s. Back then McDonald’s came up with their McDLT, which had hamburgers, tomato, and lettuce. McDLT McDonald’s also had the “genius” idea for a new container. The purpose of the new container was to separate the cold and hot components of the burger. McDonald’s divided their containers into two different compartments with one side having half a bun, the patty, and the cheese and the other side having lettuce, tomato, and the other half of the bun. 

Sounds good right. That’s what everyone thought and the fast food giant came out with their double Styrofoam clamshell container. After the introduction of the container McDonald’s started seeing some success but their success was short-lived as the 80s was when everyone realized the horrific effect Styrofoam has on the environment. Ronald McDonald surely needs to work on his timing.

Supersized problems!

McDonald's Supersize meal

Source: Reddit

McDonald’s always kept pop culture closer to its chest and tries to come out with meals and offers around pop culture. And that’s exactly what they did in 1993 when Jurassic Park was set to release. The fast food chain introduced supersized meals to go with the Jurassic Park theme. McDonald’s supersized meals gained popularity rather quickly. The meals got so popular that the fast food chain left the meal on the menu even after Jurassic Park left theaters. 

But the truth finally came out, that McDonald’s supersized meals proved to cause serious health issues to McDonald’s customers. I mean I don’t know how people missed a supersized Big Mac meal which came with massive fries and a drink would be bad for health. But the public soon realized how it was affecting their well-being and McDonald’s had to take it off the menu. After the supersize controversy, McDonald's started introducing lower-calorie, lower-fat options. It’s clear Ronald doesn’t want to repeat what happened with the supersize meals. 

Was this invention necessary?


Source: CNBC

Over the years mankind has come up with many inventions but was all those inventions necessary? If you ask yourself the question then you might be reminded of Frork. Back in 2017 McDonald’s came out with their “Signature Crafted Recipes” and they had loads on the menu that intrigued the customers like sweet BBQ bacon, guacamole, and some other really good stuff. But with new menu items, McDonald’s also introduced the Frork.

If I put it simply the Frork was a fork that had fries for prongs. I have been using forks for years and not once have I looked at my fork and thought to myself, “I definitely want edible prongs on my fork”. This is definitely something the world didn’t ask for but McDonald’s sure thought it was a great idea.

Romantic disaster!

Pay with Lovin

Source: Netimperative-

Valentine’s Day is huge for McDonald’s and they almost every year have something new and exciting every year. Even this year McDonald’s had the Cardi B and Offset meal bundle. Back in 2015, they came out with a marketing campaign called Pay With Lovin’. From a commercial point of view, it was a great idea but what about the real world? In the real world, the marketing campaign did not go well. To summarize, random customers would receive free meals but they have to do something romantic in exchange. 

Sounds romantic, doesn't it? But how would you feel if you cannot choose to Pay With Lovin’, rather it will be forced upon you by the restaurant. Yeah, you might just walk in for a burger but now you are being coerced by a cashier to dance with another hungry soul. This just might be my top pick for McDonald’s worst marketing campaign.

But if you had to pick your least liked McDonald’s marketing campaign, what would it be? Comment down below.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q.  What type of marketing strategy does McDonalds use?

McDonald's uses the 5Ps marketing strategy and that allows them to reach a wide audience. The 5Ps marketing strategy includes five important factors to consider: product, price, place, people, and promotion. One of the primary goals of McDonald’s is to ensure that the product fulfills every customer’s demand and also to maintain the same bond over the long run.

Q. What is McDonald's strategy has it changed over the last few decades and if so how?

In its early days, McDonald’s targeted high-priced value items in its menu but has recently shifted its focus towards lower-priced food items. Aside from this, the company has always focused on its service excellence to provide customers with high-quality food served quickly and in hygienic surroundings. 

Q. Why did McDonald's start to lose its competitive advantage in the 2000s?

McDonald’s started losing its competitive advantage in the 2000s for multiple reasons, and some of them are critics who claimed that McDonald's serves foods that increase obesity. The company's image decreased due to the health concerns reports made in a book and a documentary. As a result, McDonalds faced the criticism that it is unhealthy. Aside from this, the continuous increment in the number of McDonald’s competitors can be also one of the reasons. 

Q. Who pays for McDonald's advertising?

All McDonald’s franchises contribute 1.6 percent of their sales to the company’s national advertising budget, known as the McDonald’s Operators National Advertising Fund or OPNAD. However, franchisees are not required to participate, but those who don’t contribute, don’t receive access to the company's marketing programs as well. So, OPNAD is the one who eventually pays for McDonald’s advertising. 

Q. In which country did McDonald's fail?

McDonald’s failed in Vietnam because it predicted that its success in other parts of the developing world like Brazil, the Philippines, or South Africa where the company is seen as a bit of a splurge and even a bit up-scale would work there.

Q. Who is McDonald's biggest competitor?

McDonald's is one of the largest fast-food chains in the world, however, Burger King, a privately-owned American multinational chain of hamburger fast-food restaurants is the closest competitor of McDonald's. 

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