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Marketing Lessons from an Old McDonald’s Burger
McDonald’s had to say something.
Late last month, a TikTok video of a woman unwrapping a McDonald’s burger went viral. The reason?
The burger is 24 years old and didn’t look much different than the day she bought it. The patty and bun are intact — no molding, no rotting, no nothing.
The perfectly preserved burger is disconcerting, to say the least.
McDonald’s Offers a Response
A week later, McDonald’s put out a statement titled “Response to myth that McDonald’s burgers do not decompose.”
The statement goes into gross scientific detail on what it takes for food to decompose.
It even challenges people to “look closely” at the burger to see that it is in fact dried out and dehydrated.
It may be factually accurate, but it doesn’t make anyone want to rush out and grab a Happy Meal.
The video put the company in the awkward positioning of explaining why its product is actually less disgusting than it should be — not the easiest story to tell.
McDonald’s has Dealt with This Before
The craziest part is, this is not the first time the fast food company has had to respond to a perfectly preserved burger cooked during the Clinton administration.
These stories pop up relatively frequently. One Utah man even started a blog for what he dubbed “Fast Food’s Oldest McDonald’s Hamburger” and tried to auction it off on Ebay.
Each time someone discovers a mummified burger in some corner of their house, McDonald’s offers up the same accurate yet unsatisfying explanation. Clearly, consumers aren’t loving it.
It’s a messaging miss that simply serves up another round of coverage for a hamburger that existed before social media did.
As strange as it may seem, McDonald’s should have a playbook for old hamburgers and work to improve and refine its response in each news cycle.