UK McDonald's
McDonald's Monopoly : the biggest fraud in history

The psychology behind the fraud

It's extremely important to understand the psychology behind the McDonald's Monopoly fraud. As this article from The Economist stated, Daniel Kahneman has become the admen's guru.

Daniel Kahneman, who the won the Nobel prize in Economic Sciences despite not being an economist but a psychologist, published back in 2011 a famous book, a worldwide bestseller, called "Thinking Fast and Slow" . We strongly urge you to purchase and read its book as it will be an eye opener to understand how McDonald's manipulated and misled the consumers.

Extract number 1, the gorilla study :

Intense focusing on a task can make people effectively blind, even to stimuli that normally attract attention. The most dramatic demonstration was offered by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons in their book The Invisible Gorilla. They constructed a short film of two teams passing basketballs, one team wearing white shirts, the other wearing black. The viewers of the film are instructed to count the number of passes made by the white team, ignoring the black players. This task is difficult and completely absorbing. Halfway through the video, a woman wearing a gorilla suit appears, crosses the court, thumps her chest, and moves on. The gorilla is in view for 9 seconds. Many thousands of people have seen the video, and about half of them do not notice anything unusual. It is the counting task — and especially the instruction to ignore one of the teams — that causes the blindness. No one who watches the video without that task would miss the gorilla. Seeing and orienting are automatic functions of System 1, but they depend on the allocation of some attention to the relevant stimulus. The authors note that the most remarkable observation of their study is that people find its results very surprising. Indeed, the viewers who fail to see the gorilla are initially sure that it was not there — they cannot imagine missing such a striking event. The gorilla study illustrates two important facts about our minds: we can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness. Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow

Extract number 2, cognitive ease

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact. Daniel Kahneman.

It's exactly what McDonald's is doing : consumers are familiar with the board game Monopoly. By repeating over and over the terms "Monopoly", "collect-to-win" and by brainwashing people by displaying the word "win" almost everywhere, consumers end up believing, for the vast majority of them, that they can win by simply collecting and completing a property set; nothing is further from the truth! Because since McDonald's rigged the game to make some stickers impossible or almost impossible to get, it's definitely not a collection game anymore, it's a game which has nothing to do with the Monopoly and which therefore shouldn't be called so! It's what we call a lotery.

And McDonald's should have made it very clear that it was a lotery and not a collection game as they wrongfully claim it was. They should never have been allowed to use the word "Monopoly" in the first place since the mere use of this term conveyed the impression that it was a collection game (which wasn't true). They just kept hammering and hammering and hammering this lie that it was a collection game but it wasn't.

It was probably not Kahneman's intention to see his researches being misused by advertisers for the sake of misleading consumers even though he knew that many corporations would do so. Unfortunately today, corporations take advantage of cognitive sciences to manipulate and mislead the consumers into making purchase decisions they wouldn't have made otherwise, that they wouldn't have made had they been clearly informed.

We even strongly believe a corporation of the size of McDonald's, which spends billions every year in advertisings, must have known years or even decades before Kahneman's and other scientists' researches were popularized that it was easy to distort and manipulate consumers' perceptions and how to do it.

Misleading a consumer, intentionaly or not, is illegal. McDonald's not only misled the consumers intentionaly, they also lied about the real odds in many countries claiming you had 1 chance out of 4 while the real odds were 1 chance out of 8. By organizing 2 to 3 games into 1, the confusion for the consumers was total and they couldn't have possibly seen clearly that they were being deceived.

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