Trends and #Trends: Learning from the Double Down

We were thinking of what approach to take when looking at KFC and their Double Down. The ridiculously effective campaign that proved any PR is good PR managed to run some stores out of bacon (we are presuming it’s real bacon), some stores to have queues outside and some stores probably with broken toilets.

But after looking at the most popular trends on Twitter in New Zealand, aside from seeing #doubledown at number four, something that stood out was the number one trend which had a “promoted” badge next to it. That trend?  #McDFrozen.

The tweet that stays above the trend page is McDonalds tweet: “See how Lemon & Strawberry met before they became part of the New McCafé Frozen Strawberry Lemonade http://mcd.to/m2Pzzk #McDFrozen. Every other tweet on the page just references #McDFrozen.

Is this just a coincidence that McDonalds decided to buy the trend? Or has McDonalds seen that the #doubledown tag has been so popular in New Zealand (behind #childhoodmemories and #lieswetell) that this was some form of counter measure marketing to take advantage of the takeaway trend?

After talking to one of our in-house web professionals, he said that it is probably just a coincidence. The fact that McDonalds would look at trends in New Zealand and take advantage of it is farfetched, but certainly a big coincidence.

In no way is being a promoted trend really a trend at all. If aything, it’s 100% an advertisement, so the fact it can be perceived as a trend is verging on trickery to the public. This means #doubledown is in fact the third most popular trend in New Zealand. And let’s face it, a lot is thanks to the wealth of media attention the  “burger” received from nutritionists and Otago students alike.








So what can PR companies learn from the veritable chick-storm of the double down’s time in the spotlight? Everyone knows that tobacco is bad for you, so how can British American Tobacco study the double down performance to obtain similar results? Could we see a move from the health conscious menu options we’ve seen at places like McDonalds to more nutritionist-horrifying calorie spectacular meals?

Long answer, maybe. Short answer, no. Not in the sense that the double down’s fifteen minutes of fame has accomplished, at least, because all of the planning in the world cannot predict social, media, and social media trends in an effective manner. If they could, they’d be working for Google or the government.

The sheep that queued outside of KFC from 7:00am or whatever time was reported were sucked into the idea of purchasing thanks to social media. There were “events” on Facebook where the celebration was eating a double down at a certain KFC. And the genius’s that got up early and waited outside to get a double down at that hour (because it’s probably a great breakfast meal) ended up being an accidental flash mob. The mentality was passed and carried like that itch you got when you were 18 and had to get medicine for. This kind of flash mob mentality is unpredictable (or perhaps sadly predictable?) The double down will not be a lovemark, and next week we will have moved on.

Managing director of Eleven PR Kelly Bennett threw in his two cents.Regrettably I haven’t been able to escape the Double Down debate…I turn on Close up and I have to watch it. Then I drive into work and I have to listen to it on RNZ. Then I open the Herald and I have to read about it. But I don’t have to buy it and I won’t be…because it’s a load of nonsense and the media coverage has been disproportionate to real consumer interest.”

Bingo. The hype is over, the trend will change. #TBC.




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