A lot of news outlets embarrassed themselves this week by all writing the same flimsy “Social Media Slams Happy Meal Mascot” story. Exactly the same story. And each was based on at-best a handful of anonymous Twitter comments—a definition of sourcing that would have gotten the writers laughed out of Journalism 101.
But San Francisco-based researcher Kontera has done much more than spend five minutes gathering anecdotal evidence. Instead it turned to its analytics platform that analyzes consumer interest and content consumption across more than 400 million real-time content views daily. Its findings? That “Happy” the Happy Meal mascot increased overall online/social-media impressions about McDonald’s by 67% between May 17-18 and May 19-20. Fully 25% of content about McDonald’s during the May 19-20 period was Happy related; 11% was Happy Meal related. Whether the conversation was positive, negative or indifferent, McDonald’s got talked about.
So let the Twitterers mumble their usual whines and complaints. Let 9-year-old Michael Gramela tell the New York Post that the mascot “creeps me out.” It won’t keep him from wanting those fries. McDonald’s got two days of heavy social-media visibility it couldn’t have bought. I’m sure Happy is laughing.