Primary File

WTF? McDonald's Minion Unhappy Meal

Paul E. Olsen, Karen Popovich, Tiffany A. Thompson
January 1, 2016
North America
Marketing & Sales
3 pages
Public Relations, crisis, crisis management, social media, controversy
Student Price: 
$4.00 (€3.75)
Average rating: 

This critical incident describes the social media response of some customers when they believed a Happy Meal’s Minion toy was saying the expletive, “What the f@#k?” In July of 2015, McDonald’s released the Minion Happy Meal toys in conjunction with the release of the movie Minions, a prequel to the two Despicable Me movies. Soon after, upset customers, including parents, uploaded thousands of videos online complaining about the supposed inappropriateness of the toy. Seemingly overnight, the videos and controversy went viral, splitting viewers into two groups who either heard the expletive, or who brushed it off as simple Minion garble. Customers who did not want children exposed to such language brought their concerns to McDonald’s attention via social media, hoping the company would rectify the situation. Students are asked to decide what course of action, if any, McDonald’s should take in response to the incident.

Learning Outcomes: 
  1. Describe how consumers used social media when protesting organizations and corporations 
  2. Differentiate between the actions organizations and companies can employ in response to “negative” or “critical” social media that goes “viral”
  3. Evaluate different levels of public relations crisis response strategies
  4. Analyze the impact of a public relations event on stock prices