Hashtag McNightmare


In 2012, McDonald’s released a twitter campaign meant to focus on their commitment to fresh and quality foods. The campaign used two hashtags, “#meetthefarmers” and “#McDStories,” to allow the company and twitter users to share their experiences with the store. What McDonald’s didn’t anticipate was the different ways in which the second hashtag, #McDStories, could be interpreted.

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Soon enough, users were sharing brief stories of their experience with the food chain, and it was not positive. The hashtag completely backfired. Within two hours of release, McDonald’s pulled the #McDStories hashtag from their twitter, but not #meetthefarmers.

What McDonald’s did achieve was reach. The hashtag is still being used almost six years later.

What was at stake here was the reputation of McDonald’s and the effectiveness of their social media presence. What did they do to come back from the hashtag horror?

What Did PR Do?

The social media director at the time, Rick Wion, released a public statement through the L.A. Times and said, “As Twitter continues to evolve its platform and engagement opportunities, we’re learning from our experiences.”

In addition to the public statement, Wion also sent out an email which included information regarding the effect taking down the hashtag had.

“Within an hour of pulling #McDStories the number of conversations about it fell off from a peak of 1600 to a few dozen. It is also important to keep those numbers in perspective. There were 72,788 mentions of McDonald’s overall that day so the traction of #McDStories was a tiny percentage (2%) of that.”


In 2012, Twitter was just starting to become popular. It had only 100 million users compared to the 336 million today. Twitter was new and exciting and people, businesses and companies were testing the social media waters.

We can see just how important it is to consider and bounce ideas off colleagues is to avoid vague meanings of, say, hashtags associated with an important campaign.

The wording Wion used in his statements were strategic. Saying, “we’re learning from our experiences,” shows that they acknowledge their mistakes and want to improve.

I think at the time, what McDonald’s did by pulling the hashtag was appropriate. And they only pulled one of the hashtags used in the campaign, showing that they still cared about what they were supporting. They could get away with pulling one hashtag. If they did that today, it would probably receive more backlash from users.

The internet is permanent. Even though they pulled the tag, people still use the tag in their twitter posts today. Social media users are smarter now and they can see through those who try to con them in any way. It’s important for social media directors and public relation professionals to be educated.

I think McDonald’s could have found a way to create an opportunity from the hashtag to better focus on the issues of different stores and locations rather than take it away completely. But overall, what they did was the best immediate choice to defend their online brand and presence.












Is Your Ad Creative?

Advertisements are everywhere, it’s how word gets out to people. It’s a way of communicating and selling an idea to someone. So if ads are everywhere, they have to stand out to really capture attention from the audience. This is where “creative ads” come in to play. Creative ads, when done right, can make a plain product into something exciting. It can help the audience visualize what the product can do for them.

I was assigned the task of creating a creative advertisement for a boring household or office product and to use symbolic or non-literal ideas and concepts. The ad is supposed to be appealing and convincing to the target audience.

 Target Audience 

The first step is to determine a product to advertise. After that is to determine the demographics of the audience. I used a project specifics generator to determine my product, the gender, age, relationship status and media consumption of my audience. I got assigned to create an ad for an air freshener for single 18-24 year old males through a blog or magazine ad. I decided to go with the idea of a nature-scented air freshener. This appeals to most audiences, so I thought it would be appropriate for single 18-24 year old males. My ad also includes a male in the photo and he’s sitting in the comfort of his own home. This would appeal to 18-24 year old males.


(All images were pulled from https://www.pexels.com/)


For my design, I decided to use non-literal and symbolic ideas. Obviously there wouldn’t be real mountains and trees in your living room, but it’s the idea of it, capturing what the air freshener would smell like. I found two pictures that had similar colors so they would complement each other rather than clash or not blend well. I used photo shop to blend the two images together and to bring in the text at the bottom. I used a simple old faced type text and the color of the type is an off-white which blends and matches with colors already in the ad.

Although there are millions of advertisements out in the world, it is still possible to find a way to capture attention in a creative way. They make a plain or boring product into something exciting that people actually want to purchase or use. Knowing the essentials of design and knowing your audience is important. Take a moment to notice all the creative design and advertisements around you and why they appeal, or don’t appeal, to you.

Process of a Magazine Layout

Every magazine, book, newspaper – anything that is printed – has a designer behind it making it appealing to the public and related to the content. How do they do it? My purpose of this blog today is to show you the steps I took in creating a magazine spread for an article.

For my visual media class, I was assigned the task of taking an article and creating a three-page original layout. Everything that went into the design of the page, the pictures, colors, text, and font type, were all up to me. I have taken what I have learned about design, typography, color and photography and applied it to the design and construction of my layout.

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Target Audience

After I chose the article I wanted to design a layout for, the first thing I took into consideration when creating my layout was my audience. Knowing who my target audience was helped me decide how to design the layout. Since I used an article from the school newspaper, I knew my audience would be mostly college-aged individuals as well as all those who are acquainted with the university such as professors and faculty members. Keeping this in mind, I decided it would be best to create a design that was relatively simple, yet interesting and tied together with the use of photography and color.



After this, I thought about the message I wanted communicate to my audience. The article’s focus is on the progress the university has made since it was made into a university, so through my design, I wanted to communicate with my audience all the new things the school has to offer and the changes it has gone through over the last 20 years.

After deciding these things, I began to create my first draft of the magazine layout. I was given the requirements for the format of the layout and then I was on my own from there. I found that it helped me to create different sketches of layout designs that I could use before heading to indesign to begin my first draft.


When choosing which types and fonts to use, I decided I would use fonts that would contrast each other. On the first page of the spread, I used two fonts. The first is an oldstyle type and the second is a decorative type. These are two contrasting fonts. For the article, I used a sans serif type and an oldstyle type. Using different, contrasting types allows for there to be added contrast to the layout so it becomes more appealing to the viewer.


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Because of my target audience and the message I wanted to communicate with my audience, I chose blues and browns because they are cooler colors with a professional look. I pulled the blue color I used in the article from the photographs. I incorporated the colors by using them as a background for my pull quotes and to highlight letters and words to create emphasis.


Knowing the essentials of design, typography, color and photography are incredibly important when making any type of layout for a magazine or a newspaper. My understanding of these things helped me in creating a three-page magazine layout for a magazine. I hope you have learned something from my experience of creating a layout. Thank you.


All images were taken by the author.