October 2017, McDonald’s brought back a rare condiment from the 1990s at the beginning of the month, but the promotion ended in protests and sky-high secondary markets. (Kalvapalle, 2017)
McDonald’s is an American hamburger and fast food restaurant chain. It was founded in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald, in San Bernardino, California, USA. In 1948, they reorganized their business as a hamburger stand, using production line principles. Today, McDonald’s is one of the world’s largest restaurant chains, serving approximately 69 million customers daily in over 100 countries across approximately 36,900 outlets as of 2016. McDonald’s primarily sells hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken products, french fries, breakfast items, soft drinks, milkshakes, wraps, and desserts. In response to changing consumer tastes and after facing criticism for the unhealthy nature of their food, the company has expanded its menu to include salads, fish, smoothies, and fruit. A McDonald’s restaurant is operated by either a franchisee, an affiliate, or the corporation itself. According to a BBC report published in 2012, McDonald’s is the world’s second largest private employer (behind Walmart with 1.9 million employees), 1.5 million of whom work for franchises. (Wikipedia, 2017)
Plenty of “Rick and Morty” fans were disappointed this past October, when certain McDonald’s locations offered the now-cult favorite Szechuan sauce mentioned on the show back in April, 2017. (Cooper, 2017) The sauce was last sold in 1998 to promote the Disney film Mulan, but made a comeback into the public consciousness after it was featured in a Rick and Mortyepisode in which the titular characters went on a mission to obtain the sauce. (Kalvapalle, 2017)
Rick and Morty fans had thronged to McDonald’s locations around the U.S. after the chain hyped up the return of the “super-limited” Szechuan teriyaki sauce to menus, after a 19-year hiatus. (Kalvapalle, 2017)
But even those who were near a supposed-Szechuan-sauce-selling McD’s had trouble acquiring some, and they were vocal about it on social media. (Cooper, 2017)
© Retrieved from https://www.teepublic.com/t-shirt/1436077-rick-and-morty-mcdonalds-szechuan-sauce on November 3, 2017.
McDonald’s apologized for the limited quantities in a tweet sent out in October, 2017. In response to a question about whether restaurants were really limited to 10 to 20 packets and whether the sauce might be offered again. (Cooper, 2017)
The fast-food chain released a statement promising to bring back the limited-edition sauce again at a later date.
“We were truly humbled by the amazing curiosity, passion, and energy the community showed to welcome back Szechuan Sauce — even if just for one day. Thank you, a million times over,” the company said in a statement. “Between the costumes, the memes, and the cross-state travel, you, the fans, showed us what you got. And our super-limited batch, though well-intentioned, clearly wasn’t near enough to meet that demand.” (Rosen, 2017)
Between an extremely low sauce supply and an extremely high sauce demand, the promotion resulted in little more than legions of angry Rick and Morty fans, and as a mea culpa—albeit one they stand to profit from immensely—McDonald’s is now giving said fans exactly what they want: more of that Mulan McNuggets sauce. Much more. (Russell, 2017)
Proclaiming it was going to “make this right,” McDonald’s pledged the dipping sauce would return in a great quantity than before. “We’re bringing more — a lot more — so that any fan who’s willing to do whatever it takes for Szechuan Sauce will only have to ask for it at a nearby McDonald’s,” the company said. “We want to make this right. You’re some of the best fans in this, or any, dimension … and we plan to deliver on that promise as soon as possible. Stay tuned.” (Rosen, 2017).
Lessons for Others
Although McDonald’s didn’t manufacture enough sauce for their one day promotion, it’s a good reminder for companies to pay attention to what your customers are saying on social media prior to a launch. Because there was so much chatter and excitement prior to the launch, McDonald’s lost an opportunity to serve all their customers and gain positive brand awareness.
Industry expert Ed Rusch, vice president of global marketing at Philadelphia-based supply chain operating network provider Elemica weighs in on how to properly manage supply chain with social media.
- Be more competitive.Using social media, businesses can collectively sense and properly respond to supply and demand changes in the market. Move beyond your own four walls and focus more on the needs of customers, suppliers, and logistics providers.
- Broadcast shipment delays.Social media networks allow shippers and carriers to communicate effectively and to alert customers of delays quickly and in real time.
- Discover new business partners.Use a supply chain operating network with social media extensions. This enables you to search the network by equipment type, geography, material, and capacity. It also allows you to solicit participants on the network for suggestions.
- Gain visibility.Increase transparency across the entire supply chain to better understand where to source raw materials through enhanced partner discovery strategies, and with risk management or business expansion goals in mind.
- Conduct research.Check the reputation of vendors and potential supply chain partners by capturing customer experiences of other users across social networks.
- Take charge.Be proactive instead of reactive to quickly and intelligently respond to market volatility, and gain more flexibility to meet the specific needs of individual customers.
- Become better acquainted.Tap into social media to get to know customers and partners more intimately. Building that relationship increases effectiveness and retention, and promotes cross-sell opportunities.
- Rethink processes.Change can come from any level of an organization, not just from the top down. One person’s social media post can generate massive change. For example, a customer service rep can post an experience or comment that will implement changes across the entire organization.
- Collaborate.Social media lets you join forces on a larger scale than traditional communication methods such as email or phone. The larger the network, the more value the platform provides to people who are attached.
- Utilize network-based business analytics.These tools enable businesses to know not only how they are doing based on their metrics, but also how they are doing compared to others in the industry.
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
Choudhury, S. R. (2017, October 09). McDonald’s bungled a rare condiment promotion, leaving screaming customers and $280 packets. Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/08/mcdonalds-rick-and-morty-szechuan-sauce-stunt-backfires.html?view=story&%24DEVICE%24=native-android-mobile
Cooper, G. F. (2017, October 07). Szechuan sauce: ‘Rick and Morty’ fans miffed about lack of it. Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://www.cnet.com/news/rick-and-morty-fans-are-fried-over-lack-of-szechuan-sauce/
Kalvapalle, R. (2017, October 09). Rick and Morty fans cause furor after McDonald’s runs out of Szechuan sauce. Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://globalnews.ca/news/3792471/mcdonalds-szechuan-sauce-rick-and-morty/
McDonald’s. (2017, November 04). Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonald%27s
Rick and Morty Did It, Again: McDonald’s Is Bringing Back Szechuan Sauce. (n.d.). Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/10/rick-and-morty-szechuan-sauce-brought-back-again.html
Rosen, C. (2017, October 09). McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce will return this winter after ‘Rick & Morty’ fan revolt. Retrieved November 06, 2017, from http://ew.com/tv/2017/10/08/mcdonalds-szechuan-sauce-rick-morty/
|, J. 1. (n.d.). Using Social Media to Empower Your Supply Chain. Retrieved November 06, 2017, from http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/using-social-media-to-empower-your-supply-chain/