The 1984 McDonald's Promotional Mishap

When most people think of the year 1984 one of the first things that probably comes to mind is Orwell's dystopian novel. When someone higher up in the McDonald's franchise thinks about 1984 they probably want to scream about how bad it got for their corporation. To this day McDonald's won't publicly disclose how much they lost literally giving away free food. So many Ferengi Rules of Acquisition were violated.

I was alive in 1984 but I was too young to remember their 1984 Summer Olympics "When the U.S. Wins, You Win" promotional campaign. What I can remember fondly were the 29 cent hamburger Wednesdays and 39 cent cheeseburger Sundays around 1999-2000. Those were the days!

Anyway, the latest video posted on the Fact Fiend YouTube channel is about how McDonald's was offering scratch off game cards good for a free item from the menu if the U.S. placed winning in a 1984 Summer Olympics event. The free item was based on the medal the American team would win in the event.

The Fact Fiend YouTube video references the fourth season episode of The Simpsons "Lisa's First Word" which briefly parodies the real life McDonald's promotion. In the episode the Krusty Burger restaurant chain, "Official Meat-Flavored Sandwich of the 1984 Olympics", offered a free Krusty Burger every time an American team won a gold medal in an Olympic event.

The "rigging the cards for events communists never lose" parallels McDonald's commissioning a statistician to evaluate which events should be represented by fewer or more scratch off cards to tip the odds slightly in McDonald's favor. The sudden turn of event that the Soviet Union wound up Boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics wasn't anticipated and shifted the odds dramatically in the customers' favor. Which, of course, most people understandably took advantage of.