It’s always fun to wake up to a tweet sent to you from a multi-billion dollar corporation. That’s the American Dream, circa 2017, right? To be acknowledged on social media by someone with so many followers that they are AKIN TO A GODDDDD?
This morning, that was me, when I received a tweet from McDonald’s. Granted, it was a direct tweet, so it wasn’t broadcasted on the brand’s main timeline. And granted, it got a grand total of zero likes and zero retweets. But still—3.5 million followers, right? Surely my social media clout is about to skyrocket.
Fuck yeah! If there’s one thing that makes me glow with resonant self-worth, it’s really general, nonspecific praise on Twitter. Except, oh wait, what’s that? McDonald’s also tweeted the same sort of messages to 600 other writers and consumers between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Monday, while the western world slumbered. How do I know the exact number? Because McDonald’s also sent me an email this morning, explaining to me the provenance of the saintly social media boon that they’ve bestowed upon me. It reads, in part:
As you may have seen this morning, McDonald’s sent you a personalized tweet as part of its #SoftServed campaign. For the next 24 hours, McDonald’s is spreading humorous and positive messages on Twitter through its #SoftServed campaign to celebrate its fan favorite soft serve, containing no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
@McDonalds has flipped the saying, “you’ve been served” on its head and has spent the last four hours complimenting the Twittersphere – literally – by sharing over 600 personalized messages to fans and customers between the hours of 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. EST. Now, McDonald’s plans to compliment as many fans and customers as possible within 24 hours and is working with a talented team of writers from digital property, Nerdist to get the job done. Together, hundreds of personalized messages will be created from a dedicated writers’ room and shared from @McDonalds Twitter handle until tomorrow at 8 a.m. EST.
Looking past the grammatically incorrect use of the spatial word “over” to mean “more than” in the previous paragraph, everything has suddenly become clear. To my utter shock and chagrin, it turns out that this multi-billion dollar worldwide corporation may not think highly of my skills as a Paste staff writer after all. And here I was, thinking that they were seeking to bury some sort of hatchet after reading years of snarky fast food commentary in my Eating Badly column series. But instead, it’s just an underhanded way to plug their (new and improved and not quite as artificial anymore, honest!) soft serve.
That indeed is the reason for today’s #softserved promotion—the revelation that the brand removed “an artificial flavor” from their soft serve back in the fall, and has been rolling out the transition into its stores worldwide ever since. In “celebration,” the company is giving away free soft serve cones (which cost like what, 99 cents?) on Sunday, July 16, for the small, small price of the fact that you have to download and use the McDonald’s app, which I can only assume will then broadcast mind control waves to seize your subconscious and make it crave the sweet and savory death that is McGriddles. If McGriddle-related fatalities spike above their typical high in the week following July 16, this would be why.
And what more cynical way is there to spread this message than by soliciting fan tweets by promising to tweet compliments at you from an account with 3.5 million followers? Good job getting Nerdist in on it—they don’t mind accepting a large paycheck in order to write a few semi-coherent, would-be witty compliment tweets to play to the vanity of the plebians. At this point, McDonald’s might as well just auction off a Facebook post while they’re at it. I could really go for one saying the following: “Jim Vorel is a really great guy who writes real good with his words. Follow him on Twitter and remember, eat your #softserved!”
Of course, this being Twitter, it’s usually safe to say that the entire promotion will somehow be hijacked into a satirical or possibly profoundly racist (it’s about a 50/50 chance, with Twitter) meme by the smart-asses of the Twitterverse. That is, assuming anyone else even notices the promotion is happening. If not, you can expect the whole thing to melt faster than a soft serve cone sitting next to a three hour old Big Mac under the heat lamps.