Sunday, September 23, 2012

What to do When Social Media Bites - Check what McDonald's Did

In this era of Social Media, large brands are generally more enthusiastic and try to engage people in discussions around their brand. This could however backfire too – In case of McDonald’s which is one of the top global brands in fast food restaurant business, it really was extremely damaging! Company spends millions of Dollars in branding strategies and social media is one of the key components ofMcDonald’s Branding Strategy.
Despite all this careful psychological validation, earlier this year McDonalds got amassive reputational hit when it ran its Twitter Campaign. It was a simple effort to engage people in sharing their experiences at McDonald’s restaurants around the world. Hashtag for the campaign was #McStories.
For McDonald’s Social Media Team, this could be a simple campaign, but they never realized that #McStories is an excellent opportunity for promoting stories that are not in favor of the restaurant. The hashtag went viral soon with people sharing their worst experiences. Initially there were few negative tweets, but soon everyone started following the Twitter Trend and phenomenal tweets started pouring in from every corner, retrieval was impossible!

Customers Make McDonald's Brand Stronger

McDonald’s commitment to enhancing the customer experience from our menu and operations to our value and convenience – continues to move us closer to becoming our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink.” – CEO McDonald’s Restaurants.
McDonald’s is one of the greatest brands in the world. Kids love it, elders love it and youngsters love it too. No matter you are in Europe, Asia, US or Far East, big “M” signage attracts you as a choice for quick bite. The restaurant chain operates in 117 countries and employees over 1.7 million people. How many people are indirectly engaged with McDonald’s, information which is too hard to obtain. One can only guess “Millions”!
Despite its massive outreach, the brand has suffered from bad publicity too. ItsTwitter campaign #McStories went bananas. And more recently, at London Olympics 2012 where McDonald’s was one of the lead sponsors, the brand got another hit when brand managers were trying to improve ratings, and in the process, they managed to get Mayor of London speak to reporters saying that criticism of McDonald’s was “all just bourgeois snobbery”. Mayor said that “It’s classic liberal hysteria about very nutritious, delicious, food – extremely good for you I’m told – not that I eat a lot of it myself,” he said. “Apparently this stuff is absolutely bursting with nutrients.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

Celebrating the Unsung Heroes of Pakistan

Corporate Social Responsibility is the corporate sector buzz word these days. Since my engagement in the development of “Responsible Business Guide, A CSR Tool Kit”, I interacted with a sizable number of corporate players and tried to learn from their CSR strategy.

In this strive, I learnt two key lessons:
  • For larger companies, CSR is about giving back to the society by improving the quality of their communities. They work with long term vision and try to ensure sustainability of their projects.
  • For smaller companies, this is a luxury. These companies generally do not have a clear CSR vision, hence their CSR activities fall in the category of charity, which is absolutely unsustainable in the long run.

At times, CSR efforts are made in response to an immediate community needs, calamity or natural disaster. Regardless of the type of CSR initiatives, key is to focus and maintain the long-term approach and ensure sustainability.

Recently, I attended a blogger meet-up organized by Engro Corporation to share successes of their CSR initiatives. Engro is Pakistan’s one of the most prestigious private sector organization. The company has manufacturing facilities in economically deprived areas of Sind. Through their reputation and good work towards building strong communities, they have managed to bring partners to support their initiatives. Additionally, Engro Corporation also received funding from USAID that helped augment their program.

Engro Corporation’s key focus areas for CSR initiatives are health, infrastructure, water and sanitation, education and skill development, environment and livelihood enhancement. It was encouraging to learn that in late 2005, daily earning of people living in areas where Engro operates was Rs10/day only. With Engro’s education and skills development program, this increased to Rs 161 per day – Phenomenal increase!

Engro now wishes to take a leap with a new concept of recognizing “unsung heroes” – This initiative will identify and appreciate Pakistanies whose efforts are contributing in improving lives in economically deprived areas of the country. The focus is on initiatives in education, health and livelihoods, and rightly so, because these three are the most neglected community development programs in Pakistan that receive hardly any public money and also suffer from political influence and corruption.  

It is a digital competition which will look at individuals and organizations doing commendable social and humanitarian work and learn about their best practices and innovative ideas.

Engro Corporation has set-up a facebook fan page at - Individuals can send in personal stories/nominations via email which will then be judged by a jury panel - All entries must be submitted to by November 15, 2012