Lai See

Where does the truth lie in McDonald's 'lack of clarity' ?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 July, 2014, 1:26am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 July, 2014, 1:26am

McDonald's press conference on Sunday to apologise for "its lack of clarity" should be in the playbook of every crisis management consultant. The conference was held presumably to try to boost its flagging image following its public relations missteps in its handling of the expired meat scandal surrounding Shanghai Husi Food.

First it said it wasn't using meat from the Shanghai firm in its Hong Kong outlets, and then in an as yet unexplained U-turn it said it was. Normally corporate press conferences are adorned with the company's logos and signage with the executives identified by cards bearing their names and titles.

However, at Sunday's press conference there was no corporate signage and the famous McDonald's logo was nowhere to be seen. All the attendant executives, aside from Hong Kong managing director Randy Lai Wai-sze, were anonymous without the usual identifying cards.

Interestingly the only corporate name visible during the conference was "Novotel" which was inscribed on the lectern, since the event was being held in the Novotel Century hotel in Wan Chai. This is normally covered up by the name of the company holding the press conference. Anyone watching the television footage might even have thought it was a Novotel event.

Lai apologised for not communicating well and for "a lack of clarity" by the firm that he felt may have "confused" people. However, since Lai said little more than that in the four-minute press conference, there is still a lack of clarity as to how the company could initially say no meat was used in Hong Kong outlets but then reverse this position a few days later.

There was 60 tonnes of product handed to the Hong Kong authorities, which is not inconsiderable. Lai See can imagine the company's discomfort at having to make such a U-turn. Full marks to the PR whizz that came up with the "lack of clarity" idea as an alternative to spelling out exactly why they had to do this. But it leaves us with two questions. Does McDonald's not know what's going on inside the company? Did the company lie?


Lord Patten of Barnes rocks

Hong Kong's last governor Chris Patten, or Lord Patten of Barnes to give him his current title, is a man of wide-ranging tastes. His love of custard tarts was legendary. Less well known was his taste in music.

For enlightenment we are directed by The Times to the music magazine Uncut which features a letter from Sir Peter Coulson of the Queen's Bench, in which he reveals Patten's fondness for the 1970s rocker Warren Zevon. Coulson gave Patten a tape of Zevon songs when he took up his post as governor of Hong Kong in 1992. "He told me that he played it every morning," Coulson writes.

Werewolves of London, Zevon's big hit, begins:

I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand

Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain

He was looking for the place called Lee Ho Fook's

Going to get a big dish of beef chow mein

Hearing this blasting out of Government House every morning may have aroused suspicion in Beijing; the rest as they say, is history.


Korean Air impresses

Korean Air is trying to enhance its appeal by offering a well-regarded Australian wine to its first-class passengers. As of today passengers flying to Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland, and Nadi, will be able to drown their sorrows with Haselgrove Col Cross Shiraz.

Ryan Kinghorn, CEO of Haselgrove Wines, said he was "very impressed" with Korean Air's choice of wine, which hardly comes as a surprise.


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