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McDonald's shamelessly exploits Cleveland rescue

COMMENTARY

May 08, 2013|By David Lazarus
  • McDonald's says it wants to get in touch with Charles Ramsey, who was eating the company's food at the time he helped rescue three women in Cleveland on Monday.
McDonald's says it wants to get in touch with Charles Ramsey, who was… (Associated Press )

It's well known that the Chinese characters for "crisis" translate as "danger" and "opportunity."

McDonald's has decided there's no danger in exploiting the horrific Cleveland kidnapping as a marketing opportunity.

The fast-food heavyweight says it's reaching out to Charles Ramsey, who has gained worldwide fame as one of the rescuers of the three women held for a decade in a Cleveland home.

Ramsey said in a TV interview that he was munching on some Mickey D's when the action unfolded Monday. He also cited his McDonald's meal during a 911 call.

PHOTOS: Kidnapping victims found

That, apparently, was too much for the McDonald's PR team to resist.

First the company sent out this tweet: "We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy. Way to go Charles Ramsey — we'll be in touch."

Then the company kept its word by attempting to track down Ramsey through its local franchisee, possibly the same one that sold him his food.

PHOTOS: Long-term abductions

Danya Proud, a spokeswoman for McDonald's, was quoted as saying that the company wanted to show its respect for the sensitivity of the situation by speaking with Ramsey directly, rather than communicating through the media, even though it had already done just that.

"This is a very tragic situation and we can't lose sight of that," she said.

It is, of course, a shameless move on McDonald's part to grab a piece of the publicity surrounding this incredible and heartbreaking story.

McDonald's played no role in the rescue other than being the low-cost, high-calorie food that Ramsey happened to be eating at the time of the occurrence.

That made it as relevant to things as the maker of the shoes he was wearing or the person who cuts his hair.

Yet McDonald's, thanks to passing references in an interview and a 911 call, has decided it's a player in this story and has positioned itself as a conduit for the goodwill being showered on Ramsey.

Quiz: How well do you know fast food?

Maybe the company truly wants to show its appreciation for his actions. Maybe it wants to give him a cash reward (it hasn't said). Maybe it just wants to give him more food.

If so, there's a correct way to do this: discreetly.

"This is a very tragic situation and we can't lose sight of that," the spokeswoman said.

On that score, McDonald's couldn't have failed more completely.

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