Imagine finding a 14-year old hamburger in your pocket

McDonald's hamburger found in coat pocket unchanged after 14-years

McDonald’s hamburger found in pocket unchanged after 14-years

Damaging a brand’s image is fairly easy. Brands like FedEx, McDonald’s, Subway, and Domino’s have all suffered from PR crises. Today, this type of damage can go viral, making it even more dangerous for a brand’s reputation. Consider the McDonald’s “Super Size Me” crisis, where a documentary exposed the negative health consequences of eating its fast food. McDonald’s was again a target when a Utah man claimed he recently found a 14-year-old McDonald’s hamburger in his coat pocket. The burger hadn’t changed at all!  It will be interesting to see how McDonald’s handles this latest crisis.

Subway’s “Foot Long” sub made headlines too.   It started when a young Australian decided to measure his “foot long” sub and noticed it was 11”, an inch shorter than advertised.  He started a discussion on Subway’s Facebook page and then it went viral. Subway apologized and promised to ensure customers get what they are promised.

Domino’s also suffered from a PR crisis when a YouTube “prank” went viral. It showed employees putting cheese up their noses before putting it into sandwiches. The number of views quickly escalated and topped millions within a day.  The CEO responded in less than 48 hours, claiming that the store would be sanitized and the employees fired.

How could they have been more proactive?

There is a link between these PR crises.  Each of the brands were reactive, responding after the harm was done.  The risk of these scenarios happening could have been reduced if these companies had been more proactive.  Some ways to prevent these negative PR events from occurring are employee training programs that reinforce the importance of being brand ambassadors both online and offline.  Also, a brand needs to build a loyal community that will support it by using various communications tools like PR, advertising, its website and social media.

What PR crisis caught your attention lately?