Benchmark Business Group

Epic Business Fails

March 4, 2014

Many a business has attempted to do something "new," "different," or "improved" and found that what they believed was a good idea, maybe even a great idea, was truly a failure. Again, and we stress this, it is not because they believed what they were doing was a bad idea, as a matter of fact, they so believed in their ideas that they willingly risked their companies. This month, we are going to look at a few of these failures and explore what could be done to avoid such Epic Fails.

One definition that Dictionary.com has for epic is: of unusually great size or extent. They also have the following for one definition for fail: to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved. Combining these two words Dictionary.com defines epic fails as modern slang that means: a spectacularly embarrassing or humorous mistake, humiliating situation, etc., that is subject to ridicule and given a greatly exaggerated importance.

During the month of March we will be exploring three Epic Fails, The McDonald's McResource program, JC Penney's re-branding efforts by Ron Johnson, and the Sochi Olympics preparation issues. This week we will dig deeper into the McResource program.

Epic Fail #1: With Best Intentions 
McDonald's, with an idea to help employees, hired an outside firm to create and manage a website for employees named McResource. A spokesman for McDonalds USA, Lisa McCombs said, "We have offered the McResource program to help our valued McDonald's employees with work and life guidance created by independent third party experts."

With advice such as how to tip for services like a personal trainer, pool cleaners, and au pairs along with suggestions on applying for food stamps the resource began to get media attention and McDonald's faced some tough questions. Sadly, they did not pull the plug immediately as more advice was posted on the McResource website that brought more negative publicity; items such as suggesting returning unopened purchases to help get out of holiday debt and a budget guide meant to help employees to better handle money that did not include money for heat and had $20.00 set aside monthly for health care. And then what appears to be the item that brought McResource to a close was the warning to employees about the health dangers of eating fast food.  

McDonald's seemed to want to help employees but their plan backfired hugely; an Epic Fail!

With what appears to be the best of intentions, what are some things McDonald's overlooked?  

What basic marketing principle was missed?  

What can we all learn from McDonalds's McResource Epic Fail?

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