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Crisis Communication at McDonald's: The mad cow Disease

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case study
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  1. Introduction
  2. The similarities in the organizations
    1. Affirmation of the self and focus on communication and credibility
    2. Using similar tools
    3. The intrinsic and original differences
  3. Monetary strategies: similarities and differences
    1. ECB: the fight against inflation
    2. Fed: Growth and inflation
    3. Flexibility and a more pragmatic Fed
  4. Current crisis: common objectives erasing entrenched differences?
    1. Unprecedented rate cuts for ECB
    2. Fed adopts 'unconventional measures'
    3. Persistence of the 'Atlantic Wall'

Communication plays a major role in business strategies today. It exists in various forms: internal communication, external communication, event communication, etc.

The main focus of this study is on communication during a crisis. There are numerous cases of corporate crisis. The crisis associated with McDonald's, the mad cow disease, was the one that caught worldwide attention.

After the birth of the hamburger in Hamburg, the first McDonald's restaurant was founded in the United States in 1937. Forty-two years later, McDonald's finally expanded into France, and settled down in Alsace with 1085 restaurants, on 31 December, 2006. The 47,000 employees of the company receive more than 1-2 million customers a day, generating an annual turnover of 2.6 billion euros.

The company operates primarily as a franchise. The McDonald's franchise is a partnership, and fully adheres to the values such as excellence in quality, service, cleanliness, hygiene and safety.

The great crisis, which is the topic of this study, unfolded in the beginning of the year 2000. It was triggered by the death of an employee of a McDonald's restaurant located in Brittany.

The essay first understands how the crisis began because for an element to trigger a crisis, it must be important and must be publicized. In this case, the death of an employee in the premises is actually very serious, and will be reported by all newspapers and in TV.

The French, who were still reeling under the crisis of the mad cow disease, were shocked. All distributors of meat were targeted from the time the mad cow disease struck France. Hence, when such an incident occurs at any one of the outlets that distributes raw or cooked meat, it does not fail to attract the attention of millions of people.

The company McDonald was at this time receiving an increasing amount of criticism. In August 1999, a restaurant was burned down by a group of angry farmers criticizing the ?junk' proposed by the fast-food restaurant. With the image of the restaruant deteriorating there was no scope for improving the business.

McDonald decided to change its communications strategy. So far the company had ?emotional images in their commercials, showing a grandfather helping his granddaughter to ride a bike or of families in the restaurant. Continuing this ad campaign would have ruined the company.

Customers raised questions about the qulaity of food being served at the restaurant because of the entrenched fear of the Mad Cow Disease and McDonald had to respond rationally to all these questions.

Tags: McDonald, Communication during a crisis, communication strategy

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