Man claims McDonald's faked one of his tweets to promote veggie burger offer
McDonald's has closed its 29 stores in Peru after a defective soda machine was responsible for the deaths of two cleaners. (AFP)
TORONTO -- An Australian man who previously complained about a lack of vegetarian menu items at McDonald’s claims the fast food chain used his name and picture in a fake tweet to promote a new veggie burger offering.
Shane Bazzi, a Sydney-based refugee advocate, said he was “quite annoyed” when his boyfriend noticed his name and picture were used in Instagram ads teasing the McVeggie -- a new vegetarian burger available at McDonald’s locations in Australia.
“One day I’ll bite into a @maccas veggie burger. One day…,” reads the tweet shown in the ad, according to screenshots Bazzi shared.
The only problem is, Bazzi says he never tweeted the remark in the first place.
“I was quite annoyed when I found out,” Bazzi told CTVNews.ca.
“McDonald’s is a multinational corporation which makes billions of dollars and here they were advertising their new product using my name, photo and Twitter account to make money without my knowledge or consent.”
The tweet used in the ads includes the username “Shane B.,” according to screenshots Bazzi shared on Twitter. He says the blurred-out image beside the username appears to be his old Twitter profile picture.
The image in the ads appears to be a mock-up of what a tweet would actually look like. It is missing the “@” username shown beside the Twitter username and does not include a date stamp, both of which would normally be included when taken directly from Twitter.It’s also missing the blue checkmark shown beside Bazzi’s username, which indicates he is a verified user on Twitter.
Bazzi admits he has been vocal about McDonald’s lack of vegetarian offerings in the past, having previously tweeted the company encouraging them to cater to vegans and vegetarians.
“2019 and still no veggie or vegan burgers. Other fast food places do this. Why are you neglecting this market,” he tweeted in Jan. 2019.
McDonald’s Australia’s official account responded to that tweet, saying “we’ll be sure to let our team know that you’re interested in these options.”
But the mocked-up tweet used in the McDonald’s veggie burger ad is less critical than anything Bazzi had tweeted at the company in the past.
“I never tweeted that,” Bazzi said on Twitter. “They just made it up!”
Bazzi told CTVNews.ca that he has called, emailed and tweeted McDonald’s with his concerns regarding the alleged ads. He said he did receive a response from McDonald’s customer service saying a representative had forwarded his concerns to the company’s legal team.
“At the very least I would like an apology from McDonald’s. What they did was wrong and they should acknowledge that,” he said via email.
A McDonald’s Australia spokesperson told CTVNews.ca that the social media campaign advertising the new product launch took inspiration “from a handful of tweets.”
“The appetite on social for a vegetable-based burger option was a factor we considered when deciding to roll-out the McVeggie Burger,” read an emailed statement from the company.
“Our social media approach aimed to celebrate this, and we took inspiration from a handful of tweets. We blurred photos and did not use full names or direct quotes of any of the users who inspired this campaign.”
On Tuesday, Bazzi shared a screenshot of an email sent to him by McDonald’s customer service which includes the same statement.
According to his screenshot of the response, the email continues, “We can assure you that there was certainly no offence intended in the campaign and that particular phase of the campaign ended last week. Your feedback has been addressed with the appropriate departments, including the Legal team.”
But Bazzi says the response is not enough.
“I was still able to be identified,” he told CTVNews.ca. “That is how I discovered this happened. It’s disappointing that McDonald’s is still defending their actions rather than acknowledging what they did was wrong and apologize.”