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McDonald’s – It’s Time To Stop Using Helium Balloons

Professor Robert Richardson, McDonald's, helium balloons, Peter Wothers, MRI scanners, Despicable Me 3, environmental policy, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, scuba diving PR,

In July 2017 McDonald’s restaurants in the UK promoted the film “Despicable Me 3” by using helium balloons

In December 2012 Professor Robert Richardson of Cornell University in New York argued that a helium party balloon should cost somewhere in the region of £75 to more accurately reflect the true scarcity of the gas. What is Richardson’s authority with this gas? In 1996 Professor Richardson won the Nobel physics prize for his research on helium.

Just a month later, in January 2013, the Independent newspaper published an article entitled “A ballooning problem: the great helium shortage“.

In the article Peter Wothers, a British Chemist and a teaching fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge stated, “The scarcity of helium is a really serious issue. I can imagine that in 50 years’ time our children will be saying ‘I can’t believe they used such a precious material to fill balloons’”.

We only have a finite supply of helium. It is a vital scientific gas and it is needed to run medical machines such as MRI scanners. In both fields this gas is irreplaceable.

Granted we are not going to run out of helium tomorrow, but it is now time to carefully use helium. 100 years ago we utilised ivory in much the same way that plastic is currently consumed. No one batted an eye at shooting an elephant so that the tusks could be used to make billiard balls. Today we think about ivory and elephants completely differently and this thinking needs to extend to helium and balloons. Filling balloons with helium is absolutely the wrong use of this precious resource.

McDonald’s Helium Balloons

We are now in the summer of 2017. The film Despicable Me 3 has just been rolled out in UK cinemas and who doesn’t love a Minion! It is no surprise that McDonald’s has teamed up with this movie franchise and run some co-promotions because these films are joyous pieces of fun. What was less joyous was spotting that McDonald’s had fallen back on an old fashioned, out-dated method to promote the fast food chain and the film. Tying helium filled branded balloons to the railings outside their restaurant.

Professor Robert Richardson, McDonald's, helium balloons, Peter Wothers, MRI scanners, Despicable Me 3, environmental policy, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, scuba diving PR,

The McDonald’s co-branded balloons displayed information about Despicable Me 3 and the McDonald’s Happy Meal, along with a ‘don’t litter’ sign

I therefore thought it an appropriate time to check out McDonald’s Environmental Policy. The relevant page has the title “striving for a sustainable future”.

At McDonald’s we recognise our responsibility to protect and preserve the environment for future generations. That is why we have a sustainable sourcing policy for food and packaging and aim to use our planet’s resources efficiently.

We believe in the importance of having a positive impact on the hundreds of communities in which we operate. Apart from supporting grassroots football and helping to fundraise for RMHC, we help to keep local areas clean and litter free by organising daily litter patrols and larger clean-up events.

Through our Planet Champion Programme, we train our employees on sustainable practices and inspire them to do their part, both in the restaurants and at home.”

Dear McDonald’s

Printing a “please don’t litter” sign on your balloons really doesn’t make much of an environmental impact. If you really want to change this planet for the better, please review your ‘Planet Champion Programme’ and bring it up to date.

Helium is a finite resource. It is time to stop using this precious gas in balloons as a marketing mechanism throughout your entire group. You have the worldwide power and authority to make a positive impact and help educate the public that the party is well and truly over when it comes to helium balloons. It won’t take much effort. It will make a massive difference. Please make it so. Thank you.

Bolton’s ‘Poundbakery’ PR Balloon Blunder

Did you hear the one about Poundbakery, who thought it would be a fab idea to potentially maim and kill wildlife, whilst wantonly littering the Greater Manchester area?

Probably not.

It is quite possible however that you read about the bakery releasing 500 helium balloons, containing free sandwich vouchers in Bolton, as a PR stunt.

Poundbakery, Bolton Bakery, mass balloon release, Keely Palin, young-horse-panicked-by-helium-balloon-suffers-broken-neck, environmental littering, MCS, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company

“The sky is the limit with this campaign and we can’t wait to see where the balloons end up.” Keely Palin, Marketing Manager, Poundbakery Bolton

This ill conceived stunt, along with Poundbakery’s Marketing Manager, Keely Palin, certainly both deserve an entry in this year’s PR Hall of Shame.

Barely 20 days ago, on 20th March, Horse and Hound reported that a young horse ran through a gate, broke two of her legs and then her neck after choking on a helium balloon that had landed in her field.

Keely Palin told The Bolton News on 7th March 2017, “The sky is the limit with this campaign and we can’t wait to see where the balloons end up.”

Whilst Bolton and Greater Manchester are not known for their turtle population, it is a shame that Ms Palin seems to have not yet grasped that the environment needs to be positively accounted for when planning and executing every piece of PR.

At present the Marine Conservation Society is urging the public to back the banning of all balloon releases.

Currently over 50 UK local authorities including Cornwall County, Durham, Monmouthshire, Worcestershire etc, have agreed to implement a ban on balloon and lantern releases on their land.

Poundbakery, Bolton Bakery, mass balloon release, Keely Palin, young-horse-panicked-by-helium-balloon-suffers-broken-neck, environmental littering, MCS, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, Richard Gilbert, dead guillemot

A dead Guillemot entangled in a fence by a balloon

After releasing the 500 balloons, Poundbakery proudly posted the following statement on their Facebook page.

“As promised, here’s the video of the balloon release…we can confirm that the balloons (complete with FREE LUNCH vouchers) headed South East, towards Yorkshire and Manchester. However, with the British weather, they could be anywhere by now. Keep a lookout and post any pictures of the balloons in the sky…happy hunting!”

Poundbakery is encouraging everyone to tweet a photo of themselves with their Poundbakery voucher to @poundbakery with the hashtag #FreeLunch and #GoLarge. Alternatively you could always email Poundbakery with your views on balloon releases.

The hashtags for the campaign to stop balloon releases include #Pollution, #Litter, #BalloonsBlow, #Wildlife and #DontLetGo

So Ms Keely Palin. Here’s a piece of advice. A bad publicity stunt is memorable for all the wrong reasons, so here is a chance to make it right.

  • Organise a Poundbakery sponsored beach clean
  • Donate funds to the Marine Conservation Society to help them educate others who don’t understand just how damaging balloon releases can be
  • Sign the MCS’s pledge to help the charity ban balloon releases
  • And how about feeding 500 homeless people? One for every balloon you released!

Now has anyone got Bolton Council’s telephone number to get them to ban balloon releases?

Overcome 3 common sales objections by Geoffrey James

These three classic sales scripts will help you to handle most sales objections.

Overcoming sales objections, Geoffrey James, how to sell, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, The Underwater Marketing Company, TUMC

 

Here’s some really basic sales techniques, right from the mouth of one of the world’s true greats in sales training, the inimitable Tom Hopkins.  (Check out the great video on his home page!)

I’ll give the objections and responses exactly how he gave them to me, followed by my own observations about customizing the scripts to make them work for YOU.

1. “I can get it cheaper elsewhere.”

Your response: “In today’s world we can almost always get something cheaper. I’ve found that when smart people invest their money they look for three things: the finest quality, the best service and lowest price. However, it’s an undeniable truth no company can consistently offer all three. Two maybe, but not all three. Which two of those three things–quality, price, or service–do you think will most important for your long term plans?”

2. “I have a friend in the business.”

Your response: “Hey, so do I! (Smile). But you know, there’s an old saying – I don’t know how true it is – that sometimes friendship and business don’t mix. If you bought from a friend you might not want to say anything if you weren’t happy with the purchase because it might damage the friendship. With me you can get on my case until you get exactly what you want.”

3. “I did business with your company in the past and they were unprofessional.”

Your response: “I can really appreciate that. I really hate it when that kind of thing happens to me. Suppose the shoe were on the other foot and it was your company that had acted unprofessionally. You’d probably fire the person responsible. That’s probably what we had to do, and now it’s my job to make certain that you’re treated the right way from now on.”

There’s a reason that these are classics: they really do work. However, to make them work for you, you can’t just memorize them and repeat them by rote.

Instead, understand the logic and intent behind each of the responses and craft a response that uses words and a tone that’s natural for you.

For example, let’s suppose you’re in your mid-twenties, selling extreme sporting equipment wholesale to a buyer in his early thirties. Your version of response No.3 might be more like this:

“Yeah, I hear you. When I joined the firm there were rumors about some screw-ups. All I can say now is, as far as I can tell, the problems have been fixed and the screw-ups have left the company. My job is to make sure you get a great price on gear that people want and that it gets here right when you need it.”

Just think about what you’re trying to communicate and and that you are talking to a friend over a beer. It’s really that simple.