There are a lot of legends in corporate world. “Companies must be customer centric” is one of them. I will write about it in the next post. “We are social” is another one and it is a typical claim by any given company.
Companies often mix up “to have social network pages” with “being social”. And companies forget what “being social” means. A recent example in Italy can explain better than an essay.
McDonald’s Italy recently launched a commercial where a family (father, mother and son) are ordering in a restaurant. THe waiter asks to the kid “And you? What kind of pizza do you want?”. Kid: “A Happy meal”. The pay-off: “Your son has no doubt”
Yikes! The associations of Neapolitan pizza makers screamed against McDonald’s. Furthermore: a plenty of social counter offensives were launched immediately, driven by social network creativity: a lot of videos joking about “Kids prefer pizza than Happy Meal” (you can find one at the end of this post)
McDonald’s answered with following public statement:.
We would like to say to Neapolitan pizza makers that no one assaulted them. We, as good Italians, love pizza, too. With our commercial, we showed a typical situation for whom has a son. Parents want to go out for a dinner and kids push for McDonald’s. Who didn’t experience such situation at leat once? And don’t forget that a happy meal is complete meal at 4 Euro, only. How much is it the bill in a pizzeria?
Okay. When I read such statement I thought “Hope the McDonald’s Communication Director was fired”. After, remembering I am normally against firing people, I decided for a new positioning: “Hope the McDonald’s Communication Director was forced to follow a basic lesson about “being social for Companies’ Management”.
I do not know – and I do not want to know – which kind of “creative” process drove to McDonald’s commercial. If you concentrate on it, you won’t get the point.
Having a presence on social networks or “being social” is a conversational matter. If you do not understand such elementary statement you will crash. conversations have their rules:
- You are talking each other (companies with customers, companies with consumers, companies with stakeholders and… what is a stakeholder is probably a free decision by the same stakeholder): you must expect a response to your statements
- If someone show your mistakes… assume, please, that your interlocutor has some reasons to deal with them. Being bitter is the worst manner to react to criticism
- Moods matter…. Sometimes you can react to aggressiveness with irony, but never react with aggressiveness to irony.
- Conversation is one of the most important asset you must save in social network communication… if someone moves his/her complaints to you… he/she is declaring his/her will to communicate. Save the conversation, then.
McDonald’s Italy top management should have proposed an ironic commercial “Pizza is better than Happy Meal”. Or, in example, should have announced a contest to choose the best counter-commercial video.
McDonald’s would have earned the sympathy. Proving the statement: “Mistakes happen to people who do. But your mistake management is more important than avoid mistakes”.
In the following video, people order a pizza and the guy bring them a Happy Meal (hidden camera). Sorry if the dialogues are not translated in English. People speak in Neapolitan: subtitles must be in Italian… :o) But faces and attitudes are very clear.