I’m a sucker for a good true crime documentary. They can be trashy, and even exploitative, but sometimes there are a few that stick with you.
One in particular that took the country by storm was McMillions, about the McDonald’s Monopoly game scandal in which scam artists found a way to rig the big prizes so their acquaintances and friends could cash in.
In the age of streaming and the internet, no scandal goes away overnight. McMillions is hardly the only documentary made about scandals that rocked McDonald’s, let alone the hundreds if not thousands of other corporations who have faced scrutiny along the way.
Think about the recent Balenciaga hullabaloo. In mid-November, the company released its holiday ad campaign featuring pictures of a child holding a Teddy Bear. The scandal comes into play when you realize the Teddy Bear is clad in provocative leather straps.
Regardless of where you stand on the concept of the photoshoot itself, one thing is clear: there was no plan to respond to any negative pushback.
First of all, it took over a week for the company to respond to the backlash, expected internet lunacy aside. The campaign launched on November 16th, and the company’s first response came 8 days later, only to be faced with celebrity condemnation that required even more apologies to be issued.
The lesson here is simple – Always plan for the worst-case scenario.
It’s something that’s drilled into campaigners like us from day 1. Like playing chess, knowing what our opponent’s next move will be is crucial, because like it or not, every issue, every candidate, and every company has opponents and detractors who want to see them fail. Coming to the table with that mindset ensures that no matter the response, your team is prepared. That’s the mindset we bring to every facet of the work we do.
Knowing that no matter what you do, someone is going to disagree, and disagree loudly, is the best way to plan for the eventuality that your company comes under attack, whether in the headlines or online.
This brings me back to true crime documentaries, and the age of the internet. If the availability of all the world’s information at our fingertips has taught us anything, it’s that no scandal ever totally goes away. I just watched a documentary called Don’t Pick Up the Phone about a scammer who called fast food restaurants across the country posing as a police officer and convincing managers to perform illegal strip searches of employees.
While the phone calls happened 20 years ago, there is always a hunger for more content, and thus, more scandal. Had these corporations taken the steps necessary to tell managers about the hoax sweeping their locations across the country, we wouldn’t have the latest Netflix docuseries about the crimes. Having a plan, being forthcoming, and taking corrective action – that’s the way to save yourself in the internet age.