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​Opinion - When TikTok Gets It Wrong: McDonald's Sets the Record Straight

​Opinion - When TikTok Gets It Wrong: McDonald's Sets the Record Straight

Posted by Stelios on 31st May 2024

In today's fast-paced digital world, misinformation has become an alarming issue, particularly with the rapid circulation of "news" via social media. Joe Erlinger, President of McDonald's USA, recently addressed false claims about McDonald's pricing, which is a striking example of how businesses must combat misinformation to protect their brand and consumer trust.

I find it noteworthy that McDonald's, a company that typically refrains from discussing prices publicly, has felt compelled to address this issue. During the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing inflation, McDonald's has not previously issued official communications regarding price hikes. This restraint likely stems from a desire to avoid alarming customers. However, the recent surge of false information suggesting that McDonald's prices have skyrocketed has posed a significant enough threat to warrant a public response.

The misinformation surrounding McDonald's pricing highlights consumers' sensitivity to price changes in the United States and globally. Today's average consumer is more price-sensitive than ever, and any hint of increased prices can deter them. This situation underscores the lengths businesses must go to shield themselves from external misinformation.

In this context, a particularly resonant quote comes to mind: "A lie will go round the world while the truth is pulling its boots on." In an age where news is often disseminated via TikTok or Instagram without proper editorial checks, falsehoods can spread rapidly and widely. It is baffling that many news channels no longer adhere to rigorous editorial practices, instead regurgitating unverified claims from social media platforms.

Joe Erlinger's detailed rebuttal of the misinformation surrounding McDonald's pricing is a crucial reminder of the broader implications of such falsehoods. Even if some readers might dismiss the importance of McDonald's pricing, the lesson here is universal: businesses must actively protect their reputations and address misconceptions head-on. Suppose customers perceive a business as expensive based on false information. In that case, rectifying these misconceptions swiftly and transparently is imperative.

Erlinger's open letter to McDonald's customers provides a clear and factual account, debunking several pervasive myths about the company's pricing. He clarifies that the average price of a Big Mac has only increased by 21% since 2019, contrary to claims of a 100% increase. Similarly, as falsely reported, the average cost of a 10-piece McNuggets meal has risen by 28%, not 95.5%. These facts are crucial in countering the narrative that McDonald's is engaging in price gouging.

Furthermore, the letter emphasises that McDonald's overall price increases align with the increased costs of running the business, including significant rises in crew salaries and the costs of goods. This context is essential in understanding that the price hikes are not due to corporate greed but reflect broader economic trends affecting the entire food service industry.

In conclusion, McDonald's proactive stance addressing misinformation about its prices is a powerful example for all businesses. It highlights the necessity of maintaining transparency and open communication with consumers, significantly when misinformation can rapidly undermine a brand's reputation. 

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