McDonald's faces PR nightmare after video of homeless man goes viral

| by S.A. Whitehead
McDonald's faces PR nightmare after video of homeless man goes viral

McDonald's is facing a flurry of negative social media traffic involving an incident at its downtown Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, restaurant. A customer — Yossi Gallo — said when he tried to purchase food for a homeless man, employees called police who told the man to leave because of "previous disruptions."

Gallo shot a video of the incident, which has received millions of Facebook views and increasingly harsh comments about the chain and the police officer. In the video, the officer tells the man to leave the premises, while Gallo can be heard loudly telling management "You guys suck!" The manager asks him to calm his voice, which prompts Gallo to reply, "This is how I talk, I talk loud. If the officer has a problem with that, the officer's going to arrest me." 

Gallo and the man left the restaurant without further incident, according to Myrtle Beach TV station, WMBF, but online was quite a different story with a flood vitriol unleashed against both the chain and the police officer. 

WMBF reported that the Wednesday occurrence has since prompted a response by Myrtle Beach Mayor Brenda Bethune. 

"(The officer) handled herself in the most professional manner and treated this gentleman with dignity and respect," she told the TV station. "I believe in our police department. I know how close they work with our homeless community as well as the four shelters located within our city limits."

Millions of social media views and shares later, McDonald's has — with or without justification — a real public relations nightmare on their hands.

McDonald's released the following statement regarding the incident this morning from owner/operator, Joel Pellicci, "We caution people against rushing to judgment after viewing this video," he said in a response submitted to QSRweb this morning. "The safety of my guests and crew is a top priority.

"Unfortunately, the person shown in this video has previously demonstrated disruptive behavior toward our guests and employees. As a person who has lived in Myrtle Beach for nearly 40 years, I believe in helping those here who need assistance, and have supported non-profit organizations in Myrtle Beach to help people in need. Our team appreciates the support of our community. We work hard to give our guests the best experience and will continue to do so every day."


Attempts by QSRweb to reach the chain this morning have gone unanswered. 

Topics: Burger/Steak/BBQ, Human Resources, Legal Issues, Marketing / Branding / Promotion, Operations Management, Social Responsibility

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, Shelly Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of and after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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