How McDonald’s 1984 Campaign Turned into A Disaster

How McDonald’s 1984 Campaign Turned into A Disaster

Jun 6, 2013

McD & olympics

 

mcdonalds_1984_olympicsThroughout the decades, the marketing field saw the ups and downs of major brands, with campaigns that capture the customers’ attention and leave its marks printed in the records, or raise sales but drift away as quickly as they were introduced, to ones that stay on records all right but as an example of an insufficient planning.

McDonald’s 1984 Olympics campaign was among the last category. It started with good intentions and probably an idea that has been predicted to bring enough buzz; in 1984, the Olympics games returned to the US, and to show support for the American team, McDonald’s went wholeheartedly with a giveaways campaign.

“If the U.S. wins, you win!” The fast food giant announced. For every gold medal the US wins, customers get a free Big Mac, fries if they won silver and a coke for bronze. Exciting enough, isn’t it?

For customers, sure! For McDonald’s not as much, because in that year, the US Olympics team ended up winning 147 medals, 83 of the gold. A number of stores have been rumored to be running out of Big Macs, Free Big Macs.

 

 

There was two problems here. The first was with the initial idea; the company did not look into all the possibilities and went with an unconditional “win free stuff”, even though if they have looked over the Olympics medal history trying to roughly predict their freebies limit, they didn’t do a very good job. Which brings us to problem two; McDonald’s research team has looked over political variables that resulted from the location of that year’s games, consequently making the Soviets, which previously won a major share of medals, boycott the 1984’s Olympics.

The US ended up winning far more than its yearly average of Olympics medals and McDonald’s ended up giving away much more than expected for free, and McDonald’s 1984 campaign ended up as an example of “what not to do” in marketing records.

 

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