McDonald’s China: “Chickileaks” & The Truth About McChicken

McDonald's China's "Wei Ji Jie Mi" minisite promotes its use of naturally grown chicken.

McDonald’s has around 1,300 restaurants in China where it goes by the Chinese name of 麦当劳 (Màidāngláo). While it is just as popular in the Mainland as it is in the Western world, its important to understand that outside the major cities, dining at McDonald’s is really expensive in comparison to most local restaurants – quite the contrary to countries like the UK or USA.

KFC's Colonel Sanders throws a chicken at Ronald McDonald.

It’s also worth noting that McDonald’s lags behind its largest rival, KFC, partly owing to Chinese diners being more familiar with chicken than beef hamburger products. While McDonald’s upping its game by offering a variety of chicken options that can only be bought in China, there are still substantially more KFC restaurants in China than there are McDonald’s restaurants.

So to that end, McDonald’s is now trying a new tactic to persuade chicken loving Chinese consumers that its chicks are best.

At the forefront is a “controversial” TV ad that launched last week to highlight how its chickens are 100% natural:

On Youtube:

On Tudou:

The television commercial has been surrounded by controversy as Chinese netizens have been commenting on the fact that McDonald’s kills those cute little chicks and turns them into burgers.

McDonald's China's "Wei Ji Jie Mi" minisite home page features 6 videos.

Alongside the TV commercial, McDonald’s has created a mini-site dedicated to promoting how well the organisation treats its chickens at, hosted with popular Chinese online video-sharing website Tudou. The name of the site, “Wéi jī jiěmì” (唯鸡解密), is a play on words of the Chinese name for “Wikileaks”, so in English it probably can be referred to as “Chickileaks“.

Upon entering, the main page hosts six online videos that show how the chicks have good, healthy, natural lives (before they are slaughtered into chicken burgers — which is not shown). Interestingly, despite the minisite being hosted on Tudou, that hasn’t stopped three of the six videos from appearing on rival video-sharing website Youku:

The above video is the first in the series of six, and while there are no readily accessible statistics for how many times it has been viewed on the Tudou-hosted promotional minisite, this copy has accumulated ~480k views on Youku since it was uploaded 6 days ago. On Youku, the second video generated only 288k views after 5 days whereas the third video has accumulated over 510k views so far after 4 days.

Despite reasonably high view counts, all three videos are dogged by low engagement with viewers, mustering very few comments or upvotes/downvotes. In fact, as of this time, two of the three videos available on Youku have more downvotes than upvotes.

McDonald's China's "Wei Ji Jie Mi" minisite features a page promoting a chicken sandwich combo.

Central to the promotion is the opportunity for Chinese netizens to win a one of 50,000 free McDonald’s chicken sandwich combo meals being given away simply by sharing a link to the minisite and videos on popular Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo and popular Chinese social networks RenRen (formerly known as Xiaonei) and Kaixin001. Finally, the chicken sandwich combo meal itself is promoted with a 16.5 RMB (2.50 USD) promotional lunchtime price, roughly 20% cheaper than the next cheapest “extra value meal” on McDonald’s regular menu.

Whether these efforts will persuade the Chinese to switch from KFC remains to be seen.

Agency credit to: TBWA Shanghai (TVC) / DDB Shanghai (Minisite)

Just for fun…

If you want to see a little more about the battle between McDonald’s and KFC in China, check out this video created by Crystal CG:

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  • jump

    No commerical burgers and fried chicken for me on the sofa. No sir, the sofa deserves only the best.

  • Anon

    Fried chicken is an institutionalized insult against African Americans. Now they push it on us? Also check the below link about Mcdonald’s GMO mutant based foods and toys :

    CNN has also revealed that the fast-food chain uses chemical preservative tBHQ, tertiary butylhydroquinone, a petroleum-based product. Mcnuggets also contain dimethylpolysiloxane, “an anti-foaming agent” also used in Silly Putty.

    Just because KFC does not feed their chickens extra hormones, it in no way means that they do not pump them full of antibiotics and genetically modify them– remember that genetic modification can be as simple as selective breeding until traits are grossly exaggerated, resulting in mutated, suffering birds. Nor does it mean that the chickens were raised on free range farms.

    Canola oil used to fry all McDonalds foods with are also GMO. If you download the ingredients list from KFC, you will see that the ‘healthy’ canola oil is used in many of their meals. Canola is a genetically engineered offspring of the poisonous rapeseed plant, destined to cause problems in future generations that we cannot even predict yet. Canola oil is an industrial oil used to lubricate heavy machinery, and to add a glossy finish to the pages of high-quality magazines. Canola oil use at KFC will eventually result in high incidences of lung cancer amongst workers, due to the toxic fumes emitted by heated canola oil. Canola deceptively tests to be a healthy oil before heating, whereby it then breaks down into multiple carcinogenic poisons lacking any nutritional value, and the fumes from it are toxic too.

    It seems that all meat in McDonalds products are also ‘cut’ with 20 to 40% GMO ‘fillers, thickeners and emulsifiers’, metallic lead in flour, and other digestible plastics wastes like dimethylpolysiloxane appears to be nothing more than an inert polymer ‘for fibre to aid digestion’. They will say it’s inert but like Corexit, it definitely has mutagenic effects as all plastics do. Remember GMO/plastics based DNA defects only show up generationally so eat fast food at risk to your future generations.

    Overall no one has ever died from all fast food, but when table salt is followed by the infamous excitotoxin, monosodium glutamate MSG (watch out instant noodles or soya sauce fans), can cause migraine headaches, brain tumors, seizures, lowered IQ. When MSG is combined with magnesium deficiency and physical exertion, sudden heart failure can even occur.

    The problems with KFC go beyond the fact that their food should be considered unfit for human consumption. Kentucky Fried Chicken is inherently a bad company. According to Kentucky Fried Cruelty, a consumer awareness group, one billion chickens are killed each year for the company. All are crammed into “excrement-filled sheds” where they never see daylight. Many suffer from broken legs and wings due to being too top-heavy, and videos have also shown the routine abuse of animals in which the workers will stomp on chickens, or place them into boiling water to remove the feathers whilst they are still conscious. When KFC realized that PETA demonstrations (12,000 since 2003) had become a serious public relations problem, they created the Animal Welfare Advisory Council, in order to pretend that they were acting upon the complaints. Many of those who have been in the council have resigned their positions in disgust.

    “[KFC] never had any meetings. They never asked any advice, and then they touted to the press that they had this animal welfare advisory committee. I felt like I was being used.”

    ― Adele Douglass, Former member of the KFC Animal Welfare Advisory Council, speaking to the Chicago Tribune.

    It would appear that second to pharmaceuticals, most fast foods are cancer causing or ailment induving detrimental foods that you consume without dying immediately.

    Also Anthony Bourdain doesn’t like McNuggets.

    If you want to be stupid, eat fast food and watch MSM! These mega corporations are killing our children with all this sodium chloride! Healthy young athletes have died immediately from MSG combined with a magnesium deficiency.

    Don’t forget the faeces – the abattoirs work so fast and with so many animals that they can’t entirely eliminate the excrement from the factory line.

    Summed up, just don’t eat fast food and stick to so called ‘third world’ cuisine where ‘modernisation’ hasn’t hit their kitchens or crop fields yet. Hope the last places in the wrold where REAL food exists will take note of this and work to preserve local food vendors or even help them create similar franchises to counter fast food like Jolibees of Philippines though I can’t say for sure if local fast food outlets like Jolibees itself has not sucumbed to Western methods of FAKE and poisonous food.

  • B-real

    That last film was fucking awsome. I have never seen such animation come out of China. The creativity that went into it was of a caliber of artistry I would think would be from the west or japan. I hope Crystal CG makes some serious moves in the future.

    As for the topic at hand. Mcdonalds chicken has never been an issue like KFC. Mcdonalds is not a chicken joint and KFC is not a seafood joint. Mcdonald in China should focus on creative ways of putting beef between a bun with a flavor that will draw chinese away from chicken.

  • Tommy

    Is gone? I can’t get to it, even with a VPN!

    I’m in North East China right now.

  • yu

    i also wanna know. Is gone? i cannot enter the website

    • The main chinaSMACK site is down for urgent maintenance. It will be back up soon.


      • Glad to hear this, I almost thought the CCP sank to a new low and blocked Chinasmack.

        • Tommy

          If they block chinaSMACK, I’m moving to Taiwan. I am so tired of this sh*t.

  • Rude Chinese

    Chinese KFC is poor. The best KFC and Mc Donald’s are in the UK and USA…

    • Xin

      yeah right.

    • Marcel

      Then just stay in UK or USA, pls, SB…

      • Thats Right

        Wait, because the FAST FOOD is better somewhere else he / she should stay where they mention it’s better? Quit your life please, 2B.

  • Canadian_Skies

    I don’t get it. Why didn’t that little Chinese kid launch the baby chick into the air, stomp on it, toss it around the room, tie it up, keep it in his pocket, etc. etc. etc…

    You all know that in China, baby chicks are sold to toddlers as “1 day” toys, right? They never survive long.

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