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A Tale Of Two Brands: Coke & McDonald's Miss The Mark
By: Kevin Weaver
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Multiple times in this blog I have stated the importance for brands to tell their story, to be consistent, and to stay true to themselves. Brands that stay in tune with their mission enjoy a loyal consumer base. In two cases in the last couple of weeks, we have seen two dominant brands, McDonald's and Coca Cola, deviate from their successful paths and receive some criticism for it. Here's how both brands took a stand on issues that affect their consumers and totally missed the mark.

McDonald's announced that all of its fish products now come from suppliers that are certified and deemed sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. This is a timely response to an increasing concern from consumers about the sustainability of their seafood. McDonald's is sailing in uncharted waters, so to speak. Being the first fast-food giant to make this claim is valuable and sets them apart from the competition. But wouldn't it make more sense to worry about the sustainability of, say, beef? In fact, McDonald's executives say they don't buy beef from sustainable sources and that there is no way to measure it. Fish is such a small part of the McDonald's menu. The absolute last thing I'm thinking about when I venture under the golden arches is fish.

Around the same time, Coke introduced an ad entitled "Come Together," in which the brand promotes its concern over the growing obesity rate in America and what they are doing about it. The first half of the ad is great; vintage Coke. It explains how the brand now has healthier options, smaller cans, and how it has evolved. This is all fine and well, but then it went a little too far. The commercial states that "all calories count, no matter where they come from," and "if you eat and drink more calories than you burn, you'll gain weight." For a moment it seemed as if Coke was coming clean and acknowledging the fact that their products are largely to blame for obesity, but they didn't. Instead it side-stepped the obvious and began spouting off nutritional facts that we all take to be common knowledge. It's hard for consumers to take health and lifestyle advice from a company whose products have helped get us in this situation in the first place.

Both brands came up short in their attempts to take a stand on important issues. Sometimes it's just best to leave certain things alone and stay true to who you are as a brand. For Coke it was a bad case of the don't-know-when-to-be-quiet's and for McDonald's it was a giant, "Who cares?!?" Either way, any publicity is good publicity, right?


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About the Author
Kevin Weaver is a marketing professional in Wichita, KS with two years of experience. Past and present work includes email marketing compaigns, client e-store development, social media, and destination marketing.
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