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Responsible Marketing

I’m lovin’ it? McDonald’s buys love; fesses up

By January 8, 2009June 22nd, 20218 Comments

With some fanfare, on December 23rd McDonald’s launched a new concept store in Japan called Quarter Pounder, a restaurant selling—you guessed it—only Quarter Pounders.

Here’s an amateur video of the opening taken by a customer that was there:

15,000 people attended the store’s record-setting opening, but not all of them were there for the artery-clogging Mickey D’s goodness.

On January 5th, it was revealed that McDonalds paid 1,000 of the ‘customers’ to queue up during the day for their time and for their burgers, 30 of which lined up at midnight the night before.

At a minimum, by seeding the crowd with paid fans, McDonald’s guaranteed the stores would appear to be a success. But the the buzz apparently helped and the results were phenomenal.

In an era where authenticity and transparency are expected, was McDonald’s deception responsible? Did the ends justify the means?

What say you?

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Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Ryan Dancey says:

    Yes. Especially if the people they paid ate the burgers.

  • Martin says:

    Sleazy with a capitol S. Indefensible. There’s nothing responsible about lying.

  • Just another reason why I hate McDonald’s advertising approach. They just can’t seem to get it right. They’re either overly stereotypical in their campaigns, or they don’t do their homework and put out a campaign thinking “we’re hip” and it backfires in their face.
    (I’m talking about the super short-lived “I’d Hit It” campaign) Yeah, I was so shocked at that campaign I wrote into their marketing department directly hoping that someone would realize that they were wrong.

    And I can’t believe they actually did their homework on this! I was just in Japan in November and was curious about the McD’s over there. There were only like 2 burger-type sandwiches on the menu, the rest were fish and chicken. They had more fish and chicken sandwiches than we do. It’s their culture, they’re a very health-conscious society. I would really like to know how well it would have done without the payoff.

  • UNBELIEVABLY LAME. And very self-interested. it may be a “success” from a numbers perspective but it’s a SUCKcess from an authenticity standpoint.

    The fact that they didn’t have enough trust in their own product and brand and felt they had to seed the crowd speaks volumes about the brand.

    Bad marketing outings…I’m lovin’ it.

  • This is, with out a doubt, very creative. The article states it was revealed – we don’t know by who, perhaps them. If the hambergers we’re not paid for (it doesn’t matter who did) that would be crossing the line in ethics. This style of marketing was very innovated. It’s a great way to advertise. It’ll be known as the one to do this for many years.

  • Ari Herzog says:


    It’s one thing if those 1,000 “fans” were suggested to attend on a voluntary basis. But paid? No thanks.

    The event may have been a “success” in numbers, but I wonder how successful the store will be in six months.

  • There have to be better promotions that you could run to ensure the same results. However we used to park our cars very visibly at a store that I worked for to appear busier inside than we really were its a strategy that works…

  • McD’s hasn’t done much for my digestion for quite some time, but this takes it to a whole new level.

    I’m with Ari: in a culture that’s not really all that burger oriented, I’d like to fast-forward 6 months and see just how much love their still getting… Buzz buzzes elsewhere if there’s not much more to things than buzz.

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