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Case Study for MBA students: Marketing Campaigns which backfired - McDonalds

Feb 12, 2015 12:10 IST

    Marketing campaigns are launched around big events and important days. They are expected to reap in additional benefits for the company. Today we will go through a marketing campaign run by McDonalds in 1984 which backfired and resulted in losses. If it would have been any small company, it would have been difficult for them to come out of the huge looses incurred. As it was McDonalds they managed to keep running.

    It all started in the year 1984 and campaign was launched in US during Olympics. The marketing campaign by McDonalds was named “If the U.S. wins, you win!”. The campaign was to work as per the below mentioned plan:

    Customers got a scratch card, which revealed an Olympic sport. If the U.S. won gold in that event, the customer would receive a Big Mac; silver wins french fries. Bronze wins a Coke.

    Now, the idea of the campaign was formulated on the basis of past performance of U.S. in the Olympics. In 1976 the U.S. team won a total of 94 medals – 34 of which were gold. Depending on it like a good marketer, analysis was done and a "full-proof" campaign was launched.

    Here comes the twist in the fairy tale. U.S. won a completely unexpected 174 medals in 1984 with 83 gold medals. This resulted in McDonalds giving away much more free food and drinks than expected and planned. This case clearly tells that other than "trend analysis", other unexpected factors also need to be kept in the plan to avoid such situations. It was important to also consider the external macro environment while planning the campaign.

    Soviet Union and East Germany won so many medals in 1980 because the U.S. team boycotted the Games and so they boycotted the game now in 1984 when U.S. was hosting it.

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