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How Ronald McDonald Stole Christmas
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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All right boys and girls, grab your wooby and gather around by the fire for today's Christmas story. This one involves a seemingly sweet clown who sells the worst hamburgers on the planet and rarely has a bad PR day...until now. Why now? The clown is trying to steal Christmas to have his cash registers sing Christmas carols throughout the holidays, including staying open on that one special day.  

Of course, I'm talking about McDonald's. The burger — and franchising — juggernaut has decided to send out a holiday email "encouraging" its franchises to stay open on Christmas Day. I love that word "encouraging." It's like your boss "encouraging" you to come down to his or her office despite no warning. Better yet, your landlord "encouraging" you to pay your rent when it is five days late. You get the point. This is not an "Aw shucks. You can do it" encouraging word, as much as it is a "Do it or the clown is kicking your big butt down the street with his huge floppy shoes" encouraging word. Here's some notes from the FOX News story: 
But an internal McDonald’s memo leaked to Advertising Age details the change of heart. “Our largest holiday opportunity as a system is Christmas Day,” reads a memo from McDonald’s USA Chief Operating Officer Jim Johannesen. “Last year, [company-operated] restaurants that opened on Christmas averaged $5,500 in sales...ensure your restaurants are open throughout the holidays.”
Granted, other chains are already cashing in that seasonal spirit, such as Jack in the Box, Denny's, Burger King, and insert your pizza joint here. But this is Christmas, restaurant that stresses its family-friendly focus!! And when the COO of any corporation "encourages" his people to do something, it's not encouraging at all. 

What the Elf, people! 

Remember that Turkey holiday that celebrates family and stuff for which you are thankful? This year, Walmart decided Black Friday wasn't dark enough so it needed to slide on into Thanksgiving. They got tons of blowback on that decision. It was not a PR highlight. Will the same thing happen to this clown? Sure, it makes business sense. Most places are closed; you know, allowing their employees to share one of the only sacred holidays left on the calendar and all. So when you are open, and some people don't have family around, why not? A technologically advanced chicken nugget-ish substitute can sound tasty. 

Will this decision create a PR storm for McDonald's? Who knows. Will the employees protest? Probably not. However, this move smacks of turning the Happy Meal into a 'Bah Humbug' platter, doesn't it? You keep it classy, Ronald. Oh, and that coal you get in your size 64 stocking? I hope it grits your teeth.

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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