According to RonaldMcHummer.com, McDonald’s has given away 42 million Hummer toys as part of their most recent Happy Meal promotion. Not surprisingly, a number of individuals who view the Hummer as a symbol of rampant eco-destruction have made a shrill outcry.
Now, from a marketing and customer interaction perspective, the interesting bit about this brouhaha is not the outcry itself, but rather the McDonald’s response. Bob Langert, Vice President for Corporate Citizenship and Issues Management at McDonald’s, has put forth an interesting bit of NewSpeak on the McDonald’s Corporate Social Responsibility blog, regarding the promotion. Langert states:
“Our company, including my staff, is deeply committed to the whole scope of corporate responsibility issues, including environmental protection. So I polled my staff who have or had children. One of them said her children enjoy the little Hummer replicas as toys, just as many kids like toy trucks, regardless of make or model. She drives a MiniCooper, walks with her children to get groceries, bicycles with them on weekends, etc. Another said her grandchildren absolutely love the toy Hummers–that they’re fun.
Of course, there’s nothing scientific about this poll, but I think it makes an important point. Looked at through children’s eyes, the miniature Hummers are just toys, not vehicle recommendations or a source of consumer messages about natural resource conservation, greenhouse gas emissions, etc.”
Bob, you dropped the ball here. Big time. There are about a dozen comments on your blog on the matter, none of which you’ve addressed directly. You’ve given a pat, Teflon-coated response to an issue that is of concern to many of your customers. In fact, the response you’ve given isn’t even a response — it’s a mis-direction and a diversion.
Without stepping up and giving a real answer and providing some real direction, you are doing nothing more than using a new medium (blogs) to reinforce the negative perceptions that already exist about your organization. In fact, you are solidifying those perceptions further.
(Thanks to Jay Rosen for the tip.)
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